Vision of Saint Francis (Il perdono d'Assisi)
55.3 cm x 34.5 cm (21 3/4 in. x 13 9/16 in.)
Federico Barocci (aka Fiori da Urbino)
(Urbino, Italy, 1528 - 1612, Urbino, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Etching and engraving
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
Federico Barocci, a painter of extreme sensitivity and incipient naturalism, had a fundamental role as a precursor of the Baroque. Although they are still essentially idealized, his works built upon the innovations of Titian and especially Correggio to achieve unprecedented optical sensation and affecting sentiment. Later in his career, he experimented with printmaking, making four etchings. This, one of two large and complex plates, reproduces his own altarpiece of 1576 for the church of San Francesco at Urbino. Its subject is Saint Francis’s vision of Christ granting indulgences to the pilgrims who would visit the saint’s chapel at Portiuncola. The etching translates not just the composition but the vibrance and ecstatic feeling of the prototype.
Extremely important despite being few in number, Barocci’s prints set the course of Italian Baroque etching. Combining the plastic values of late-century engraving with the graphic freedom of etching, they were the first to accommodate the naturalism and inherent expressiveness of the emergent style of painting. Immediately, they helped reinforce and further Barocci’s influence. More generally, they established the proposition of painters conveying their full style, not merely their composition or drawing, through printmaking. Most of the etchers of the next century would be painters first, and many of their finest plates would interpret their own works.