Barocci, Federico

Barocci (or Baroccio), Federico (c. 1535-1612). Italian painter.

Barocci was born in Urbino and apart from two trips to Rome early in his career was based there all his life. He is said to have abandoned his frescos in the Casino of Pius IV in the Vatican Gardens (1561-63) for fear that rivals were trying to poison him, and the hypersensitive temperament this suggests comes out in his work. It consists mainly of religious paintings, which combine the influence of Correggio and Raphael (also a native of Urbino) in a highly individual and sensitive manner.

His color harmonies are sharp but subtle and, although his paintings often convey a feeling of intimate tenderness, his handling has great vigor. Despite the fact that he worked away from the main centers of art, his work was much sought after, his patrons including the emperor Rudolf II. And although Barocci constantly claimed to be ill, he had a long and productive career; he was prolific as a draughtsman as well as a painter and was one of the first artists to make extensive use of colored chalks.

Barocci is generally considered the greatest and most individual painter of his time in central Italy; certain features of his work are thoroughly in the Mannerist tradition (his rather indefinite treatment of space, for example, and his delight in fluttering draperies), but in his directness and freshness he looked forward to the Baroque. Bellori, the pre-eminent biographer of the Baroque age, considered him the finest Italian painter of his period and lamented that he had `languished in Urbino'.

Photographs by Carol Gerten-Jackson.

12 Jun 1996, Nicolas Pioch - Top - Up - Info

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