Barocci @ National Gallery

An exhibition celebrating the seldom talked about Barocci at the National Gallery. Only two works by the Italian renaissance artist permanently reside in Britain, only one of which is a painting, the other being a drawing at the Ashmolean. Yet despite being relatively unknown in the UK, the National Gallery succeeds in educating us about an unknown talent whom will sure have gained a strong following succeeding this exhibition.

Barocci mainly painted altarpieces which are still in situe which may be why he is not so well known to us, however, the artist was praised by Michelangelo and fellow artists were jealous of him because of this. A contemporary of El Greco, Barocci bridges the gap between mannerism and the baroque. He was painting 50 years after Raphael and also comes from Urbino. This may explain his patronage from Francesco Maria II Della Rovere, the Duke of Urbino whose hometown is shown in the artist’s depiction of the annunciation through a window. At one point Barocci was so popular that this painting was even seized by Napolean.

Famed as a colourist, Barocci’s paintings are full of colour and rosy cheeked figures. Most of the paintings on display are religious however their is one mythological subject in the portrayal of Anaes Fleeing Troy. We are also shown portraits of his patron as well as a self portrait where he has portrayed himself as looking rather stern and perhaps a little unwell.

Where the exhibition really excels is in its presentation of Barocci’s preparatory sketches. For nearly every image we can see just how the artist worked to perfect his figures and there is knowledge of the production of over 1500 drawings. The artist also had access to the drawings of Michelangelo whose influence is easily apparent. Very often male life drawings finish as females which is interesting. Also on display are prints and engravings on taffeta as an affirmation of the artist’s popularity during his own life time.

It is unclear why Barocci is not so well known today. It is evident that the artist enjoyed much success throughout his career and the National Gallery justly brings him into light again. This wonderful display should certainly not be missed.

Barocci: Brilliance and Grace is on display at the National Portrait Gallery until 19 May

Posted by

Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer and curator. She is the founder of Gallery Girl - a London-based curatorial platform and website dedicated to modern and contemporary art from across the globe. Her work is primarily focused on supporting emerging female artists from the Middle East and the Caucasus. She has written for Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, Suitcase and Vice Arabia among other publications. Her exhibitions in London and Armenia have been featured in Vogue Arabia, The Art Newspaper, The Art Gorgeous and numerous other news outlets. Gallery Girl has also spoken in the UK, UAE and Belgium about the contemporary art scene in the MENA region, and is planning further events in London and Amman.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s