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February 7, 2011




Federico Barocci 1569.

Oil on panel.

San Bernardino, Perguia.

Like the Zuccaro brothers, Federico Barocci hailed from Northern Italy near Urbino.  Here, he was not as exposed to the up and coming artistic movements of Rome, and so he painted in the Late Renaissance, Mannerist fashion with some insight into the Baroque.  He acts as a transitional figure and an inspiration to Baroque artists.

Barocci’s Deposition altarpiece is full of foreshadowings of the Baroque era.  Figures in this piece show many distinct emotions, there is a swirl of movement, and Barocci’s use of color links the entire composition together.

Barocci’s signature use of color culminated into the cangiantismo mode.  Cangiantismo is a mode of color in which multiple hues are used in modeling, rather than adding black or white to change the value.  One can argue that this has connotations of being artificial and maniera, but it is merely another way Barocci used color to unify a composition in moving toward the Baroque.

Here, we see emotion as an element of persuasion.  The emotion of the figures draws the worshipper into the scene.  The weight of Christ’s body combined with the swirl of wind and movement causes the viewer to want to reach out and catch the falling Christ.  But we respond in the way most figures of this piece do: there is nothing we can do to help.  We must contemplate.

Deposition is hindered from being fully Baroque in that there is no sense of depth.  Everything is happening up front, on the surface of the picture plane.  There is no sense of recession into the background.  However, some of the figures’ hands and feet protrude into our space.  Likewise, there are no repoussoir figures to keep us out.

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