Guercino was an Italian Baroque painter and draftsman from the region of Emilia, and active in Rome and Bologna. The vigorous naturalism of his early manner is in contrast to the classical equilibrium of his later works. His many drawings are noted for their luminosity and lively style.
At an early age he acquired the nickname Guercino (Italian for 'squinter') because he was cross-eyed. Mainly self-taught, at the age of 16, he worked as apprentice in the shop of Benedetto Gennari, a painter of the Bolognese School. By 1615, he moved to Bologna, where his work was praised by Ludovico Carracci.
He was recommended by Marchese Enzo Bentivoglio to the Bolognese Ludovisi Pope, Pope Gregory XV. The years he spent in Rome, 1621–23, were very productive. After the death of Gregory XV, Guercino returned to his hometown. In 1642, following the death of Guido Reni, Guercino moved his busy workshop to Bologna and become the city's principal painter. Guercino was remarkable for the extreme rapidity of his executions: he completed no fewer than 106 large altarpieces for churches, and his other paintings amount to about 144. He was also a prolific draftsman. His production includes many drawings, usually in ink, washed ink, or red chalk. Most of them were made as preparatory studies for his paintings, but he also drew landscapes, genre subjects, and caricatures for his own enjoyment.
Guercino continued to paint and teach until his death in 1666, amassing a notable fortune.