Federico Barocci (Urbino 1526 or circa 1535-1612) The head of a bearded man,

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Lot 6
Federico Barocci
(Urbino 1526 or circa 1535-1612)
The head of a bearded man,

Sold for £ 60,000 (US$ 82,309) inc. premium
Federico Barocci (Urbino 1526 or circa 1535-1612)
The head of a bearded man, a sketch for The Visitation
oil on paper, laid down on canvas
39.5 x 31.25cm (15 9/16 x 12 5/16in).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE:
    Acquired by the present owner's family more than fifty years ago.

    The present sketch is a study for the left hand figure in Federico Barocci's The Visitation in the Chiesa Nuova in Rome (see Fig. 1). The handling may be closely compared with the Saint Elizabeth in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which is also a sketch for The Visitation and is similarly oil on paper laid on to canvas. A drawing that relates very closely to this oil sketch, which is in charcoal, sanguine and white crayon, measuring 29.5 x 20.5 cm., is in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille. A further study in the same medium as the latter, 39.1 x 25.1 cm., showing a similar composition, but with a balder head is in the Musée du Louvre (inv. 2884); and a drawing in black and white crayon depicting the full figure of Saint Joseph, measuring 28.4 x 18.6 cm., is in the Staatliche Museum, Berlin, (inv. Nr. 295-1844).

    This altarpiece for the Oratorian church was executed between 1584 and 1586. Along with The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple (executed for the same church between circa 1594 and 1603), the altarpiece represented the high-point of Barocci's career as a painter. At this period no other painter in Italy had so high a reputation and, consistently admired over the centuries, these altarpieces comprise his most famous works.

    On the 7th June, 1582, patronage for the fourth chapel on the left of the nave, which was dedicated to The Visitation, was assumed by Francesco Pozzimoglio. The life of the Virgin Mary was especially esteemed during the Counter-Reformation. Documents in the church's archive show how the Commission of the Chiesa Nuova, consisting of Saint Philip Neri and the priests of the Oratory, had already resolved to 'try to have the painting ... made by master Federigo Barocchi of Urbino.' (Quoted in Nicholas Turner, Federico Barocci (Paris, 2000), p. 102). It was only subsequent pressure put on Duke Francesco Maria of Urbino from Cardinal Pierdonato Cesi, protector of the Oratorians, that proved decisive. When The Visitation was unveiled, the faithful queued for three days to view it. Saint Philip Neri, the Oratory's founder, himself sat on a chair in front of the altarpiece, lost in contemplation: 'of this tender, solemn, intimate feminine encounter - until he was irritated by the discovery that he had in turn become a holy picture and was exciting the ecstatic admiration of female spies in an adjacent chapel.' (Nicholas Penny, 'The Raphael of the Counter-Reformation' (Review of A. Emiliani, Federico Barocci (Urbino 1535-1612), (2 vols., Bologna, 1985), Times Literary Supplement (26 September, p. 1059).
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