Baldassare Castiglione, Book of the Courtier, France, Frederico Barroci, Renaissance, sprezzatura, Thomas Hoby, Urbino
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 hommeMicheline Walker© June 20, 2012 WordPress
Sprezzatura. Thank you for the word. Which also describes the music. How ’bout that?
It’s not a word we hear everyday, but sprezzatura it is. Thinks of all the words humans have created.
Thank you for the note. Cheers,
Hi, Micheline. I’ve tried to leave this comment on the site yesterday, but for some reason it wouldn’t take it. Anyway, I thought about asking whether Barocci was also influenced by the Japanese landscape paintings that were becoming well known in Europe, during his lifetime. And about Telemann, there’s the easy way some regard him as a minor composer, obviously in reference to Bach. But whereas he was, indeed, a favorite of the court and aristocracy of his day, while poor Johann had to contend in being a humble cantor, that’s just half of the story. Bach’s relative unpopularity may have had something to do with the fact that he was a deeply religious man and also had a huge family to support. In other words, perhaps for him, time was better spent with his passion, his family and his duties and faith. After all, his job would probably keep him extremely busy, and on top of that, he was also a prolific composer and a scholar, interested in expanding the constraints of the well-tempered system. Compared to that, Telemann had it relatively easier, which doesn’t mean to say that he was not a tremendous composer on his own right. It’s a similar case to the Salieri-Mozart situation, in what the former came to be known mostly for his power grab and possible envy of the latter. That view, popularized by the movie may not even be accurate, but regardless of it, he was a very good composer too, just unlucky enough to live alongside a certified genius, much younger and better looking than him, no less. Of course, you know all of that. It’s just fascinating that the’ve all managed to accomplish so much during their lifetimes. All the best. Wesley
How interesting! He may have been. What caught my eye when I discovered that picture was that it had nothing in common with what was being done at the time. It would be difficult to prove, but Barocci may have seen Oriental works. This work (chalk and water) is like a haiku and it is immensely beautiful. I have been discovering art I never suspected existed. I thank you for your comments. You’re right. People like you make scholarship advance.
Telemann had facility. He wrote music the way other people breathe and it had “grace.” We sometimes have to look at artists and musicians that are not as famous as Mozart. Salieri was a good musician and a good composer but making him envy Mozart gave the film just that little je-ne-sais-quoi. Actually, it gave the film a little tension and, of all things, comic relief. Thank you Wesley and take good care of yourself. Micheline