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Country dance

c.1601–02

Reni Guido
(Bologna 1575 - 1642)


The scene depicts a country dance organized by a group of peasants and attended by some local ladies and gentlemen. A young peasant is inviting a lady to open the dancing, accompanied by the music of a lute and a viola da braccio. A number of hunters and other figures can be seen in the hill landscape, which is dotted with castles, farms and a small church. Some sailing vessels are crossing an expanse of water in the distance.

The painting, which reappeared at auction in London in 2008 with an attribution to an anonymous Bolognese artist, was recognized by scholars as a work by Guido Reni formerly belonging to the Borghese collection. Recorded in ancient inventories from the beginning of the seventeenth century, it remained in the collection until the end of the nineteenth century, when it was probably sold. With its acquisition by the museum, the painting has been reincorporated into the collection built up by Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

Reni’s familiarity with landscape painting enlivened by human figures was virtually unknown in the past, but recent research has brought to light various pieces by the young artist in this genre, produced in Bolognese circles and in the context of key developments introduced by Annibale Carracci and his school.

A curious and virtuosistic detail shows the taste of the painter for the trompe l’oeil: two lifelike flies of natural size, painted on the sky, seem settled on the canvas.


Object Details

Medium | oil on canvas


Dimensions | 81 x 99 cm


Location | Room 19 – Helen and Paris Room


Period | '600


Classification | painting




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