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Landscape with Banks and Trees,
by Frederico Barrocci (c.1590)
The British Museum, London
(Used by permission of Art Resource, NY)

Frederico Barocci  (c. 1526, Urbino – 1612, Urbino) is a Renaissance artist.  As a citizen of Urbino, he is not totally unknown to us.  Baldassare Castiglione, the author of Il Cortegiano, The Book of the Courtier, lived at the Court of Urbino.  Il Cortegiano was published in 1528, late in Castiglione’s life, but was written over several years.  The Italian courtier has sprezzatura.  In France, he is l’honnête homme.  In England, he displays contenance angloise, a term used to describe a form of polyphonic music, but which suggests  élégance characterized by an degree of restraint, or sprezzatura.

I love Barocci’s landscape.  I love its flowing lines (mannerist), its suggestiveness and its monochromatic quality.  Nothing is overstated.  Beauty can be bold, but it can also be a mere whisper, lace curtains gently billowed by the wind, sheer grace: sprezzatura.

According to Wikipedia, “The Book of the Courtier was one of the most widely distributed books of the 16th century, with editions printed in six languages and in twenty European centers. The 1561 English translation by Thomas Hoby had a great influence on the English upper class’s conception of English gentlemen.”

Related blog:  Il Cortegiano, or l’honnête homme

Micheline Walker©
June 20, 2012