Always keen to find out more about art, I popped in to the National Gallery on Saturday to catch the exhibition Barocci: Brilliance and Grace before it closed on Sunday. Federico Barocci (c. 1526-1612) was born and spent most of his life in the Italian city of Urbino. He was widely admired in his time, and crowds of people would appear to view a new altarpiece by him. He developed within the Italian Renaissance tradition, but was also instrumental in pioneering the Baroque style.
I’m far from being knowledgeable about art, in fact I’d never heard of Barocci until this exhibition was advertised. However, the beauty of his paintings, the warmth and humanity of them, was clear as soon as I saw his work. Barocci was a spiritual man, embracing the Catholic Counter Reformation, and this comes across in his religious paintings, which are more lively and moving than a great deal of Christian art. I particularly liked The Nativity (1597). One of my pet hates in art is seeing grotesque cherubs or putti, chubby and smiling, and they seem to be everywhere – but here, the baby Jesus actually looks like a real baby, and is beautifully worked.