The artist and engraver Agostino Carracci was baptised on 16th August 1557. He was Annibale Carracci’s (1560 – 1609) brother, Ludovico Carracci’s (1555 – 1619) cousin, and Antonio Carracci’s (1583 – 1618) father. The Carraccis were active during the Early Baroque period. Agostino completed his initial studies under Prospero Fontana’s (1512 – 1597) tutelage. He later worked for Bartolomeo Passerotti (1529 – 92) and for architect Domenica Tibaldi. His father then employed him in his workshop.
Agostino Carracci is regarded as reforming Italian reproductive engraving. As well as being an artist, he was a scholar, and quickly became a respected mathematician, rhetorician, musician and poet. This love of the sciences and preference for the company of educated people made his brother Annibale jealous. His brother was not well-educated and spent time solely with similarly uneducated people. They were therefore constantly in artistic competition with each other. In 1589, Agostino Carracci travelled to Venice where he remained for some time. Back in Bologna, he also worked on the Carracci family’s large frescoes. These were highly regarded at the time, and led to a large number of commissions. Even in their earlier works, it is difficult to distinguish between the three artists, Agostino, Annibale, and Ludovico Carracci. However, Hans Tietze believes that Agostini’s contribution to the Palazzo Sampieri frescoes (1593 – 94) is relatively large.
From 1595, Annibale Carracci worked for Cardinal Farese in Rome. Agostino is thought to have joined his brother in 1597 or 1598 to help him decorate the Galleria Farnese. During the course of the unfinished work in the Galleria, tension grew between the brothers. In 1600, Agostino Carracci went to work for Duke Ranuccio of Parma, decorating the ceiling of a room in the Palazzo del Giardino. Agostino completed the central image and three side images.
The fourth remained unfinished, as the artist died in Parma at the age of 45 on 22nd March 1602.