Ludovico Carracci, together with his younger cousins Agostino and Annibale, founded the celebrated Carracci Academy in Bologna in the early 1580s, where they fostered a new, naturalistic approach to painting, with a strong emphasis on life drawing. They are considered to have reformed Italian art after decades of domination by the highly artificial mannerist style. Luodovico trained in that older tradition under Prospero Fontana, but he played a key role in the functioning of the Academy and collaborated with his cousins on several important decorative commissions for Bolognese palaces. He remained based in his native Bologna throughout his career. Most successful as a painter of altarpieces and other religious subjects, Ludovico’s art is characterised by a highly personal blend of naturalism and spirituality which is hard to categorise. His compositions and settings are often highly contrived, and from the mid-1590s he developed a preference for monumental figures with exaggerated gestures and expressions. Professionally he was popular, and from the late 1580s there are numerous dated and documented works. His most celebrated works date from the years prior to the departure of Annibale and Agostino for Rome in the mid-1590s. Under Ludovico’s direction the Carracci Academy remained the leading training centre for artists in Bologna right up to his death in 1619. Most of the major names in the next generation of Bolognese artists passed through it.