* 1578 Bologna
† 1660 Bologna
Francesco Albani, who counts among the main representatives of the Bolognese baroque school, was born son of a silk merchant in Bologna in 1578. His father wanted him to become a jurist, however, after his father’s death in 1590 Albani began an apprenticeship as painter with Dionys Calvaert, the Flemish painter who was called Il Fiammingo, referring to his origin. It was his studio where Francesco Albani made first contact with Guido Reni, with whom he would later, as of around 1595, attend the Carracci school and who would become both his most famous artist colleague and rival in business.
Francesco Albani revived the baroque classicism of the Bolognese School, showing his greatest talent in mythological scenes characterized by a special poetic notion and an elegiac sensuality. His paintings – panels as well as frescoes – were mostly made in Bologna and Rome, but Francesco Albani was also active in Florence (1633) and Mantua (1621/22).
Francesco Albani, whose great idol was the Renaissance painter Raphael, presumably visited Rome for the first time around 1600. He worked together with his teacher Annibale Carracci, who counted Francesco Albani among his most gifted student and supported him accordingly. In 1609 Francesco Albani briefly returned to Bologna, but soon was called to Bassano di Sutri (Viterbo) by Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani, in order to embellish his palace.
At around the same time, presumably between 1609 and 1612, Francesco Albani and Guido Reni worked on the decoration of the chapel in the Roman Quirinal Palace. Rome would remain the center of his activities for the coming years (frescoes on the choir of Santa Maria della Pace, murals in the Palazzo Verospi).
Francesco Albani‘s first daughter was born in 1614, however, his wife survived just another ten days. It took another four years before Francesco Albani brought himself to marry again: In 1618 he married Doralice Fioravanti, who would give birth to numerous further children.
As Francesco Albani got older, meanwhile he had become a wealthy and famous painter, he felt more and more inclined to return to his hometown: in the first half on the 1620s Francesco Albani was still active in Mantua and Rome, but a little later he began spending most of his time in Bologna, to where he eventually entirely retreated.
Francesco Albani, among whose students were his brother Giovanni Battista Albani, as well as the famous Andrea Sacchi, died in his hometown in 1660.