This essay looks at several problematic Annibale Carracci self-portraits in the Uffizi which have contributed to an image of the artist that is undeniably out of focus. The most famous image of the artist is preserved in a pair of nearly identical canvases—the Self-Portrait on an Easel in the Uffizi and that in the Hermitage—that receive a careful attention here. Identifying the Hermitage painting as an autograph, the author analyzes its distinction from the ultimate meta-painting, the celebrated lost self-portrait made on the artist’s palette. The essay interprets the Hermitage painting as a reflection on immortality: the artist addressing his viewer in the long durée with a rare modesty of self-presentation. Tying together all the examples, the corpus is a testament to the allure of Annibale’s reputation, and to the enduring pursuit of an elusive quarry, an authentic self-portrait for the Uffizi collection.

Annibale Carracci, Self-Portrait on an Easel, ca. 1604 or a later copy, oil on panel, 36.5 x 29.8 cm. Florence, Uffizi Gallery (inv. 1890, no. 1774).Annibale Carracci, So-called “Romantic” Self-Portrait, ca. 1590/91, oil on canvas, 71 x 56 cm. Florence, Uffizi Gallery (inv. 1890, no. 1803).Annibale Carracci, Self-Portrait in Profile, ca. 1590/91, oil on canvas, 46.5 x 39.6. Florence, Uffizi Gallery (inv. 1890, no. 1797).
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Imagines è pubblicata a Firenze dalle Gallerie degli Uffizi. Direttore responsabile: Eike D. Schmidt. Redazione: Dipartimento di Comunicazione Digitale. ISSN 2533-2015
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Gail Feigenbaum
Gail Feigenbaum, An Evanescent Corpus of Self-Portraits by Annibale Carracci in the Uffizi, in “Imagines”, n. 4, maggio 2020, pp. 76-97
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