Ludovico Carracci was the cousin of brothers Annibale and Agostino. Collectively known as the Carracci, the three men perpetuated the dominant artistic style in 17th-century painting and printmaking in which nature and the human form were shown perfected and idealized. This style was contemporary with the more realistic and unidealizing style of Caravaggio and often the two schools are compared to one another to show the competing modes of expression that characterize the European Baroque. They started an Academy of painting in their hometown of Bologna to instruct emerging artists in this classicizing style. Amongst the followers of the Carracci were Guido Reni, Giovanni Lanfranco and Domenichino. Ludovico remained in Bologna for most of his life, taking on many pupils after Annibale left for Rome. Ludovico's paintings and etchings were a fluid balance of naturalism, idealism, and holdovers of Mannerism, all of which became exaggerated later in his career. Consistent with the Carracci's artistic philosophy, drawing was an essential part of his creative process and contributed to the well-balanced, often contrived, compositions in Ludovico's works.