Passions & Places

Federico Barocci

Federico Barocci

Federico Fiori Barocci was a refined and sensitive painter who was born in 1535 in Urbino. The town was at the top of its ducal splendour at that time. 

Barocci was to become one of the most representing painters of Italian mannerism and was soon appreciated as a talented artist. 

Vasari soon mentioned him as a “ragazzo dalle grandi prospettive” (a young boy with great prospects), and in 1561 he was called to decorate with frescoes Pope Pius IV’s lodge in the Vatican Gardens. 

The sensitive and tormented painter never accomplished his task, for fear of being poisoned by some of his rivals; in 1563 he went back to his quiet native town, where he lived in voluntary isolation. 

There he worked for Francesco Maria II della Rovere until 1612, when Barocci died.

Federico Barocci gave life to his intense works during a secluded existence; a rich figurative language, influenced by a profound sense of spirituality, marks his works. 

In that period the Contra reform was taking place, and new religious orders were being established, Barocci’s works lack the pictorial exasperation that is typical of mannerist painters.

A vibrant religious art is expressed by his skilful brushwork, which fills the believers’ hearts with devotion, through holy scenes depicted in a natural and daily setting. The collective sentiment of Christianity is enhanced, rather than the pomp of the Church.

Every work by Barocci stems from a long and laborious preparation, aimed at achieving a personal stylistic perfection. 

Such perfection may be seen, for example, in the Forgiveness of Assisi, conserved at the Church
San Francesco in Urbino, in the dynamic composition of the Transport of Christ to the Sepulcher and in the Virgin of the Rosary and St. Dominic, preserved in Senigallia, the former in the Church della Croce and the latter at the local Picture Galley

Another example is the Virgin of Clouds, conserved in Urbania in the Church del SS. Crocifisso-.

The Marches’ National Gallery of Urbino hosts many works by Barocci, including Assumption of the Virgin and a painting portraying St. Francis who is receiving the stigmata

This work shows the artist’s in-depth naturalistic research in the late 16th century. 

The Civic Museum of Fossombrone preserves the wonderful painting titled St. Francis’ stigmata, while the Museum of Urbania preserves a conspicuous collection of Barocci’s preparatory drawings.


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