Marketing and Self-Promotion in Early Modern Painting: The Case of Guercino

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This article focuses on Guercino’s Return of the Prodigal Son, commissioned in the name of Cardinal Alessandro Ludovisi and on his marketing choices. This is a case study in terms of self-promotion tactics employed by an ambitious artist. My argument is that one finds in the painting a secondary and more sophisticated level of interpretation, which relates to the relationship between the painter and his patron. To the most traditional iconography of the scene, Guercino added musicians and spectators, thus positioning the entire composition in the theatre. One of the musicians is depicted in a way that casts him as a representative of the painter. The patron understood Guercino’s intentions and commissioned what became Guercino’s most important artworks. It was Guercino’s ability of shifting the attention of a given iconography and deliver current political meaning that is discernible in his Roman works commissioned by the same Cardinal Ludovisi who was elected Pope Gregory XV. View Full-Text
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages19
Issue number3
StatePublished - 18 Aug 2021


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