Ludovico Carracci was a member of a large Italian family of artists. He belonged to a generation that included his cousins Agostino Carracci and Annibale Carracci. They lived in Bologna, where they rose to artistic prominence in the last quarter of the 16th century, and opened a celebrated art academy that trained some of the important Italian artists of the 17th century including Domenichino and Guido Reni. Through their artwork and their academy, the three men launched a progressive movement against the artificiality of Mannerist aesthetics which initiated the Baroque. They worked closely together until 1595, when Annibale left for Rome. Ludovico’s paintings, principally religious and mythological works, are in Europe’s great museums, including the Louvre and Hermitage.
Richard Dalton was an engraver, draftsman and curator. While serving as George III’s librarian, he met the great mezzotint engraver Francesco Bartolozzi on a visit to Italy in the 1760s. This led to Bartolozzi coming to England to work on a series of etchings after Guercino in the Royal Collection, which Dalton himself also worked on (the plates were later purchased and published by John & Josiah Boydell). In 1778, Dalton became surveyor of the royal pictures. His engravings include works after Holbein paintings and antique statues. By analogy to the publishing history of the Guercino works, this print of Hercules after Carracci, engraved by Dalton, was probably issued in London (by Boydell or similar publisher) individually or available bound with other prints after old master paintings in a single volume.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 2, pp. 336-337.
“John Boydell and Prints in Imitation of Drawings from the Royal Collection.” The Hunterian Art Gallery: Connoisseurs, Collectors and Copyists. http://www.hunterian.gla.ac.uk/Archives/CCCexhib/introboyd.htm (27 July 2005).
“Ludovico Carracci.” Think Quest Virtual Restoration Project. http://library.thinkquest.org/18291/data/chiostro/htmlen/lcarracci.html (28 July 2005).
Parada, Carlos. “Hercules and the Hydra. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.” Greek Mythology Link: Heracles Album. 1997. http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/000Free/000Heracles/source/42.html (28 July 2005).
Williamson, George C., ed. Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. London: G. Bell and Sons: 1930. Vol. 2, p. 6.