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Federico Barocci, Federico Borromeo, and the Oratorian Orbit *.

Because of the fervor of their founder, Saint Filippo Neri, who desired that sacred images be painted by excellent artists, Barocci received the commission. (1)

--Bellori, "Life of Barocci"

Federico Barocci (ca. 1535-1612), the renowned fifty-year-old painter from Urbino, made a brilliant Roman splash in 1586 with the delivery of the first of two influential altarpieces for Filippo Neri's Congregation of the Oratory's Chiesa Nuova. (2) The Visitation of the Virgin and St. Elizabeth in the fourth left (4 L) chapel was followed in 1603 by the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple in the left transept. There was a plan for Barocci to do a matching Coronation of the Virgin in the right transept but because he was known to take quite a long time painting, this was abandoned. Then finally, with the Presentation's delivery, Barocci was bold enough to propose to do the altarpiece for the high altar. Money constraints made this well received idea flounder, but Barocci did manage to send one more important work to Rome, his communion of the Apostles, for the Aldobrandini family chapel in Santa Maria sopra Minerva in 1608.

Scholars have noted the remarkable fact of these four altarpiece projects in one very important Roman church. But perhaps this has caused us to make facile observations, about Barocci's "Oratorian piety." Stuart Lingo has recently remarked that "What I am resisting is the naivete concerning general cultural history that too often dominates the practice of art history, and the instinctive predilection for connecting famous artists to an implicit 'Zeitgeist' centered on groups and institutions that are believed to be new, different, and powerful--'avant garde' in some way." (3) Conversely, there is the opposite tendency to see these two failed projects as evidence of some neglect. Lingo's comments may serve as an invitation to reconsider exactly what Barocci's relationship with the Oratorians means.

One may uphold the traditional assertion of an affinity between Barocci and the Oratorians based on a reconsideration of new and previously known data. The relationship can be affirmed more positively by inserting Barocci's relationship with the archbishop of Milan and Cardinal Federico Borromeo (1564-163 1) as well as Pope Clement VIII (1535-1605) into the Oratorian ambience. (4) Borromeo, the disciple of Neri and benefactor of the Chiesa Nuova, oversaw four concurrent commissions to Barocci which substantially enlarge the Oratorian picture. Clement VIII's commission was also conceived within the Oratorian sphere. Viewing all these forces in a unified context shows the give and take in Barocci's very busy career, where different individuals and groups did their best to deal with his popularity. Further, there are surprising connections and overlaps. In this way, the true force of Oratorian interest emerges. (5)

The quarter century from 1582 (the year of the commission of the Visitation) to 1608 (the delivery of the Communion of the Apostles) was indeed an active period in Roman church history. These were the years of what is called the Church Triumphant, the post-Tridentine church full of confidence. There is good reason to regard the papacy of Sixtus V (1585-90) as a turning point of the Catholic Counter-Reformation and therefore of a new attitude to religious imagery--conveniently, one which was also essentially carried on by his successor, Pope Clement VIII, from 1592-1605. (6)

The papacies of Paul IV (1555-59), Pius IV (1559-65), Pius V (1566-72), and Gregory XIII (1572-85) were marked by indecision, dissent, and defensiveness. The severity of Paul IV officially supported the counter-maniera and saw the near destruction of Michelangelo's Last Judgment. Subsequently, Pius IV revived the Council of Trent and oversaw the moderate reform of the church. At the end of his papacy, the Netherlands saw its largest period of iconoclasm (1566). Under Gregory XIII, momentum was gaining for a confident offensive, yet setbacks like the Calvinist conquest of Antwerp occurred (1581).

In the year Sixtus V became pope, 1585, Philip II had regained the Spanish Netherlands. Bolstered by Catholic victories, Sixtus V proclaimed his position on images in several Vatican commissions (the Scala Santa, the Sistine Chapel of S. Maria Maggiore, the Biblioteca Sistina). (7) These commissions continued a trend, however, where the exigencies of content won out over manual coherence and refinement. They announced the message of the Church Triumphant, but did not necessarily clothe it in a complementing form. This task would fall--at least until the pontificate of Clement VIII (1592-1605)--to the traditional altarpieces adorning individual chapels in the churches of the new secular religious orders.

Sixtus V Peretti was a Conventual Franciscan from the Marches. He adopted the name Sixtus in emulation of Sixtus IV della Rovere, the general of the Conventual Franciscans and defender of the Virgin and indirect founder of the Urbino dynasty through his nephew's marriage alliance to the soon-to-be extinct Montefeltro line. (8) Sixtus provided the benevolent atmosphere in which these reform orders thrived. He had promoted the Franciscan reform movement of the Capuchins (so important for Barocci's development in Urbino) and befriended their saintly leader, Fra Felice da Cantalice (1515-87). Significantly, the Capuchins were still in the grip of reformist asceticism (Santa Maria della Concezione would not be begun and decorated until 1626) so the churches of the secular orders of the Jesuits and Oratorians were important institutions. The Society of Jesus had been founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1540 and its church, the Gesu, was already built (it was begun by Vignola in 1568 and seen to completion by della Porra in 1575) (9) Similarly, the Congregation of the Oratory led by San Filippo Neri had been given Santa Maria in Valicella in 1575, which was substantially rebuilt by Martino Longhi in 1582 and subsequently referred to as the Chiesa Nuova. (10)

In conformity with the Council of Trent, both Jesuits and Oratorians exerted a new control over interior church design, conceiving their decoration as a program." The altar dedications were fixed, and had to be accepted by the patron. Under Alessandro Farnese's protection the Gesu pioneered Counter-Reformation church design with its wide nave and large transept arms. Like the Gesu, the Chiesa Nuova also began under Farnese's influence but, perhaps due to the intervention of the new patron, Cardinal Pierdonato Cesi (1522-86) and his architect Giacomo della Porra, it came to look like the Congregation's former home and site of della Porta's earlier work, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini. (12) Unlike the Gesu where Farnese's princely tastes dictated much of the decoration, the Chiesa Nuova was ruled by corporate decision and therefore more contemplated choices. The result in the Gesu was a great stylistic plurality which the Chiesa Nuova seemed to avoid by the sheer quality of its altarpieces commissioned by the best artists in Rome and abroad.

The Gesu pioneered a cross-nave pairing of nave chapels, where the left-hand chapels saw their fulfillment on the right; thus, the Apostles were paired with the Martyrs, the Infancy of Christ is paired with his Passion, the Trinity is paired with Angels, and the Crucifixion is paired with the Resurrection. The Chiesa Nuova is slightly different, owing to its inspiration in the mysteries of the Virgin. It carries on a more traditional chronological program but maintained the possibility of cross-nave pairing. It is a "counter-clockwise wraparound" pattern beginning in the left transept and wrapping around the church and ending at the right transepr. (13) The entire theme is Mariological but ingeniously typological. For example, on the left side of the nave going toward the high altar, the Annunciation of the Birth of the Virgin precedes the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple. Nevertheless, like the Gesu, the same scenes have cross-nave pairs. The Annunciation of the Birth of the Virgin foreshadows the As sumption of the Virgin, and the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple foreshadows the Coronation of the Virgin. Thus just as in the Gesu it is possible to conceive of chapel design in pairs, an idea that plays an important part in the following discussion.

The Oratorians in particular placed characteristic demands on the works which would adorn their chapels. For example, in 1583 they asked Scipione Pulzone to send a cartone of his work to see how it would look in situ in the Chapel of the Crucifixion (1 R). (14) Not only this, but they had some control over which artist was picked; for example, in the instance discussed below, the patron got to choose between two artists. Earlier scholarship regarded the artists of the Chiesa Nuova as so many famous men (Barocci, Caravaggio, Rubens); however more recent views see an underlying affectivity common to the various works, in spite of their differences. (15)

It is easy to imagine how Barocci came to the attention of the Oratory. It is well known that his Madonna del Popolo had a great effect upon its unveiling in Arezzo in 1579, earning him a great deal of fame. In the late 1570s and early 1580s Barocci was also personally and collaboratively engaged with the master engraver Cornelis Cort in the dissemination of many of his compositions in print. Cort's engravings of The Rest on the Flight from Egypt (1577) and the Madonna del Gatto (1578) were extremely popular, as were Barocci's etched engravings of the Perdono (ca. 1581) and the Madonna in the Clouds (ca. 1582). (16)

However, there may be closer connections that preceded this public acclaim and self-promotion. Barocci was in Rome circa 1555 and again from 1560 to 1563, when Filippo Neri was already well known in the city for his spiritual meetings and works for pilgrims. Both Neri and Cardinal Giulio della Rovere (1533-78), Barocci's first patron, were connected to the Accademia delle Notti Vaticane, organized by Carlo Borromeo. During Barocci's second stay in Rome (1562), Cardinal Giulio's doctor, Battolomeo Eustachio, was called upon to aid an ailing S. Filippo. (17) Ironically, when Barocci became ill the next year he may have been treated by the same doctor, for Bellori says "but even the cures ordered by Cardinal della Rovere from the best doctors were all in vain." (18)

One can speculate on a small neck-watch made by Barocci's uncle, Giovanni Maria Barocci, and signed 1563, that belonged almost certainly to Neri. A watch still in his rooms at the Chiesa Nuova matches one mentioned in Neri's Processo for beatification and canonization, shaped like an egg with a raised movement to tell the time by touch. (19) If delivered in that year when Federico was still in Rome, he would have been the natural contact to assure it reached Neri's hands.

We cannot rule our an Oratorian presence in the Marches, if not Urbino, that could have facilitated a connection. Stuart Lingo has downplayed such a possibility as a distraction from the true Franciscan direction of Barocci's works, noting that the Oratory was not established in Fossombrone until 1608. (20) However, the Oratory had interests in San Severino and Fermo rather early. Domenico Pinelli, Archbishop of Fermo, invited Oratorians to his jurisdiction in 1579; the establishment and ratification of oratories followed. (21) The duke of Urbino and Barocci's frequent patron, Francesco Maria II (1549-1631), even recommended the Urbinare architect Ludovico Carducci to them, a fact surely known to the painter. (22) Furthermore, several Marchegians were members of the Oratory. (23) What is at issue is a formative influence upon Barocci, one reaching him when he was still young enough to shape his spirituality and indeed approach to making images. We still do not know when this contact began, but we can now get a little closer to an answer.


The danger of focusing on the altarpieces Barocci sent off to Rome is the tendency to fall into a "great man" scheme whereby the artist brings about stylistic influence solely through his irresistible style. Fortunately, we do not have to fall into this error because in the period under discussion Sixtus V, a Marchegian, was commissioning works in the Roman style in the Marches close to Barocci. (24) These were nor simple provincial works, but included decorations for one of the most revered relics of all Christianity, the Holy House in Loreto. Furthermore, Urbinate artists trained by or associated with Barocci participated in the Roman projects (Antonio Viviani, Andrea Lilio). And Barocci's friend, Federico Zuccaro, the dean of Roman painting, spent time in the Marches (1582-83, 1603, 1608). (25) Year by year, both Romans and Urbinates were made aware of contemporary developments.

Barocci's first Roman altarpiece commission was for the Chapel of the Visitation of the Chiesa Nuova, obtained in 1582 when Francesco Pizzomiglio bought the rights to the Chapel (Fig. 1). (26) As noted, the Oratorian Fathers exerted a strict control over the commission and gave the family a choice of two painters for the Visitation, Girolamo Muziano and Barocci. (27) Barocci was chosen in spite of his reputation for slowness (which was already well known in Rome) and in spire of the fact that he had not set foot there for twenty years. The Oratorians approached the duke of Urbino's minister seeking a Barocci altarpiece.

Like Scipione Pulzone, Barocci was probably requested to supply a cartoon to be set in place in the chapel. The cartoon now in the Uffizi (inv. 1784) may have been borrowed from the painter by the Fathers. According to Barocci's working method, the overall design was determined from studies, and then fixed, which is the stage depicted in the drawing. From then, however, Barocci went on to square it and do individual color pastel and oil sketches of different gridded parts, and it is this later analytic step that took him so long. It is no surprise that two years after the commission, Cardinal Cesi complained about Barocci's slowness. (28)

Despite the delay, everyone was happy with the delivered work. In fact, as the minister of the duke, Grazioso Graziosi, reported, lines formed outside the church for three days after the unveiling of the painting. (29) Its success also may have led Cardinal Alessandro Farnese to request a work by Barocci for the Gesu. But like many after him, Famese would be discouraged from negotiating a commission and he seems instead to have turned to Girolamo Muziano, who began his Circumcision for the high altar in 1587. (30)

For the composition of the Visitation Barocci may have been influenced by the rosary book of Alberto Castellano, owned by Filippo Neri. (31) But the coloring--which would have been more easily appreciated before Borromini's oratory next door blocked the windows--is typical of Barocci in brilliantly pairing a wispy, monochrome background with bright, shimmering masses of drapery in the foreground. The Virgin is embraced by Saint Elizabeth, but the iconicity of the image is interrupted as Zachariah looks out suddenly and Joseph stoops to pick up his bag, while an ordinary woman on the right looks on. Barocci combines sweetness with realism. The faces of the women especially are idealized and the draperies are bright and somewhat regularized. At the same time, there are details like the onlooker's chickens, her straw hat, the donkey on the left, or the brass pot on the ground, which are all painted with skillful illusionism. In this way, the plausibility of the image is never lost.

The picture was reincorporated into the rebuilding of all the chapels (1598) overseen by Giovan Battista Guerra (1547-1627). (32) The change is evident with a view of the interior of S. Girolamo degli Schiavoni where the aisleless church's nave meets the chapels and altarpieces. The original back of the chapel would have terminated with the painting, but this was extended into semi-circular apses behind them. Barocci's work underwent the same adaptation, and in fact Guerra was paid for refounding the wall behind the chapel. (33)

When Barocci's work arrived, the Chiesa Nuova already housed paintings by Durante Alberti and Cesare Nebbia, but the Visitation set a new standard. Barocci's altarpiece certainly had the opportunity to exert wide influence, as it was engraved by Gysbert Veen in 1588 and again by Philippe Thomassin in 1594. But what is important is the way that Barocci provided a chromatic alternative to the pietistic sentiment expressed by Pulzone and Muziano; they directed the counter-maniera toward an archaizing ideal and Barocci demonstrated a new means of appeal to the viewer.

The work came to the attention of Filippo Neri himself, the leader of the Oratorians. Upon his death in 1595, when the processo for his sanctification began, witnesses reported seeing him in the chapel, where he performed miracles or was seen in ecstasy. (34) He was said to perform his own personal devotions before it, sometimes spending hours lost in rapture. Father Bacci recorded Neri's preference for the painting and his raptures there in his biography of 1622, recalling how "he would stay in the chapel of the Visitation where he pleasurably and willingly contemplated the image of Barocci." (35) The story was also repeated by Baglione and Bellori. (36)

These stories about Barocci and Filippo Neri are unique in art history; and they cannot have been lost on followers like Federico Borromeo. The remarkable mark of approval of a Counter-Reformation saint for an artist has fueled more than anything the myth of Barocci, painter of "Oratorian piety." Without deciding on the issue as yet, we may say that the fact that Barocci was a favorite of Neri must have led to his next remarkable commissions four years later.

In the meantime Barocci does not seem to have waited expectantly for further word from Rome, for he was busy with so many other projects. The year of the completion of the Visitation he agreed to treat a secular subject, The Flight of Aeneas from Troy, for the Emperor Rudolf II. He did the Madonna del Rosario for the church of San Rocco, Senigallia, the port city of the Duchy, and he did the Circumcision now in the Louvre for a Confraternity in Pesaro. Both Senigallia and Pesaro were important stops for both papal and royal legarions, and there is every indication that Barocci regarded these as both religiously fulfilling and important (not to mention well-paying) commissions.


In 1590 Pope Sixtus V died. After three very short pontificates, Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini was elected Clement VIII in 1592 (d. 1605). He shared many of Sixtus' ideas and continued his building and decoration programs. (37) Remarkably, he too was born in the Marches. (38) He was sympathetic to the Capuchins (his court preacher was one). His connections to the Oratory were particularly strong, and he was close friends with the Oratorians Silvio Antoniano and Cesare Baronio, his confessor.

Barocci's success with the Visitation and especially its favor with Filippo Neri led immediately to other commissions in the Chiesa Nuova. Around 1591 the idea was promoted to have him provide both a Presentation of the Virgin in the left transept, as well as a Coronation of the Virgin for the right transept. (39) It will be remembered that the chapels of the Chiesa Nuova are also oriented typologically, so that the Coronation can be seen as the proper fulfillment of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary. This pairing of two works is not unique (contemporaneously Barocci proposed to provide two companion paintings for Urbino cathedral) but the typological pairing was unique, and an innovation of the Counter-Reformation.

The left transept was patronized by the benefactor of the church, Cardinal Pierdonato Cesi, and the right transept by the Glorieri family. Nevertheless, Barocci's paired altarpieces would have taken on a great significance, given the prominence of transepts in post-Tridenrine churches. Further, these were both decorated very much as pairs. They of course shared the same altar designs, but also the same polychrome marble, inspired by recent chapels of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Gesu. They even share vault frescoes by Paris Nogari and Paul Brill. (40)

Because Barocci never finished the Fall of Manna to complement his Last Supper for Urbino's cathedral, he admitted that he would never be able to finish both the Presentation and the Coronation together, and the Fathers concluded that the commission for the latter work would be handed over to Giuseppe Cesari, the Cavaliere d'Arpino. However, Cesari suffered the same delays and did not finish his contribution until 1615. (41) Thus Barocci simply proceeded in 1592 to provide the Presentation of the Virgin for the Cesi Chapel, now for Angelo Cesi, Bishop of Todi, and brother of the deceased Pierdonato (Fig. 2). (42)

It is important to note that in the same year, the Fabbrica del Duomo of Milan approached Barocci about an altarpiece for their altar of S. Prassede (21 May 1592). (43) He went so far as to request information about the chapel so as to understand its lighting. However, the commission came to naught and the work went to Ambrogio Figino. (44) There can be little doubt that this was initiated by Federico Borromeo, a fact made more plausible by the fact that Santa Prassede had been the titular church of his illustrious cousin, Carlo Borromeo. The lack of success must be owed to Barocci's numerous commissions, including that for the Chiesa Nuova. While Borromeo was headquartered in Rome since 1586 (and until mid-1601) he did not encourage the commission from Rome. He spent the summer and autumn of 1592 in Milan and was in Urbino in January 1593 and may then have met the master, if they did not actually negotiate the commission. (45) This is the first possible case of contact between Barocci and Borromeo.

In spite of the importance of his second Chiesa Nuova commission, Barocci did nor proceed with greater speed, but began his usual exhaustive process of composing studies for the work, and it would only be finished ten years later, in 1603, when finally delivered to Rome from Urbino. What made matters worse was the fact that the 1590s were probably the peak of Barocci's artistic activity. In addition to agreeing to work on the Chiesa Nuova and Urbino cathedral paintings, Barocci was extremely busy with one commission in particular, the Crucifixion with Three Saints first negotiated with great patience by the Genoese nobleman Marteo Senarega in 1585 and placed in Genoa's cathedral in 1596. (46) This great work earned him the remarkable fee of 1,000 scudi, and was admired by both Rubens and Van Dyck in their stays in Liguria. Nevertheless, the Presentation of the Virgin received even greater acclaim, in accordance with its greater size and more prestigious placement in the transept. The Oratorians wrote immediat ely to Angelo Cesi in Todi of "not only our own but all of Rome's incredible applause and satisfaction." (47) A rare letter records Barocci's thanks. (48)

Like the previous Visitation, this painting has a neutral, architectonic background against which the bright figures are staged. Unlike the former work's off-center perspective, however, the Presentation has a central vanishing point and the lines converge on the young Virgin's head. This creates a modest virtual space beyond the altar tabernacle (and actually the architectural details bear comparison). The Presentation can be considered a more complex elaboration of the Visitation; the figures are smaller and more numerous. The same high-key colors are repeated and again we find the animals, birds, a ram, a calf.

When the Presentation ofthe Virgin was finally finished in 1603, a lot of time had passed. Neri died in 1595 and a number of works had begun to fill up the Gesu and the Chiesa Nuova, including paintings by Federico Zuccaro, and the favorite of Rudolf II, Hans van Aachen. The younger painters Giovanni Baglione and Michelangelo da Caravaggio were also finishing some of their first big commissions. But Barocci's interest for the Oratory would still hold.


In 1595 Federico Borromeo became archbishop of Milan and remained there from July 1595 to March 1597 to establish his position. In the late 1590s there was a sense that Barocci's Presentation had to be nearing completion and the Milanese were prepared to occupy him next; little did they know that he would not finish the altarpiece until 1603. On 17 March 1597, sometime around Borromeo's return to Rome, the Council of Deputies ordered a Nativity. (49) A series of letters now in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana written between 1597 and 1600 relates to this commission. All were written by Borromeo from Rome in full understanding of the workings of the Roman Oratory. (50) Furthermore, Borromeo was in Pesaro in May 1598, accompanying Clement VIII on his way to possess Ferrara, and later Urbino in December 1598 when he no doubt discussed the work with Barocci. (51) The result of this further appreciation of Barocci was Borromeo's authorization of two prints of the Senigallia Entombment which he may have seen in person: on e by Raffaello Guidi and one by Egidius Sadeler. (52)

The letters are remarkable because they indicate that Borromeo sent a Capuchin friar, Fra Damiano, to Urbino for the summer 1599 to oversee one of Barocci's works and actually to transport it back to Milano when complete. (53) The painting was finished by August 1599 and in September Barocci wrote to Borromeo returning the thanks and promising to continue serving the cardinal as best he can. (54) The documents are equivocal and we cannot be certain what extant painting the two are discussing, but for the following reasons the best hypothesis is that it is the Nativity in the Ambrosiana in Milan. (55)

This Nativity is most often presumed to be a copy by Barocci's pupil, Alessandro Vitali, of Barocci's own Nativity for the King Philip III and his wife Margaret of Austria, now in the Prado. The closeness in date to the actual Prado Nativity, however, raises the issue of which came first, for payments are more or less contemporary. (56) It seems likely that Barocci oversaw both, not unlike the multiple versions of the Rest on the Flightfrom Egypt of twenty years earlier. If Barocci was concurrently making multiple versions, then rather than suppose a lost Nativity of the same date, it makes more sense to simply suppose that one of the versions made its way to Milan.


The smallish Nativity, successfully delivered even while the Presentation was not, must have given the Milanese hope for bigger things from Barocci. On 24 February 1600 they ordered two altarpieces for the Duomo, one for the S. Giovanni Buono chapel (Lamentation of Christ), and the other for the chapel of S. Ambrogio (St. Ambrose's Pardon of Theodoric). (57) Here we recognize a familiar story, where Barocci enters optimistically into a two altarpiece commission, as he had for Urbino's cathedral and also for the Chiesa Nuova.

The payments for both followed rapidly (22 April 1600; 22 September 1600; 23 November 1600; 24 June 1601; 20 December 1601), and priority went to the St. Ambrose's Pardon of Theodoric (Fig. 3) that was to be painted with the help of Barocci's assistant Alessandro Vitali. (58) It was finished by 14 July 1603, and delivered just three months after the Presentation was sent to Rome. The quality of the St. Ambrose's Pardon of Theodoric has recently been positively reconsidered, but there is no doubt that its speed of execution was aided by Vitali's intervention. (59) Barocci's overextension was evident when on 2 October 1601 he reported to Urbino's cathedral that he could not complete the Fall of Manna because of lack of time. At the same moment, the Milanese were avidly watching Barocci's Presentation commission; thus on 17 December of the same year the Urbinate Ludovico Vincenzi wrote to his expatriate brother, Guidobaldo, in Milan that "the painting for Rome is almost finished." (60) Nevertheless, the Lamentat ion of Christ (Fig. 4) was never finished, although eventually it was mounted by Federico Borromeo in its unfinished state.

All this activity surrounding Barocci before the Presentation was finished was not lost on the Oratorians, and helps to shed light on some contemporaneous actions. By this time Cesare Baronio was the spiritual leader of the Oratorians and directed their patronage. Importantly, he too had been to Pesaro with Clement VIII to possess Ferrara (1598) and may have gained further knowledge of Barocci's works or met the master. Francesco Vanni was gaining favor at this time with Baronio, who had him paint the altarpiece for the new church of Santa Maria degli Angeli of Sora (1601), his hometown and bishopric. Baronio's influence also led to the important commission for the Fall of Simon Magus for Clement VII's so-called Navi Piccole project in St. Peter's, to which Roncalli, Passignano, and Cigoli also contributed. Baglione reports that "Cardinal Baronio suggested Francesco Vanni" and it may be the case he was chosen for his Baroccismo. (61)

Baronio also patronized Barocci's pupil Antonio Viviani. Viviani worked on the so-called Tricliniun Pauperum in the monastery of San Gregorio Magno in Rome, of which Baronio had been made abbot. Viviani painted seven scenes, many of which are pastiches of Barocci compositions. Payments continued from 21 November 1603 to 16 February 1606, thus after the completion of the Presentation. Nevertheless, Abromson and Zuccari suggest that Viviani was most likely chosen for the similarity of his style to Barocci. (62) It is most common to associate Cristoforo Roncalli, il Pomarancio, with Baronio's patronage. (63) While he was undoubtedly the most important artist for the Oratory, it is clear that with Barocci so busy or unavailable, Baroccesque artists filled the void. Attending to this persisting influence of Barocci's pietism in the Oratory also makes Guido Reni's popularity after Baronio's death less puzzling.


With the Presentation installed, Barocci must have been particularly ambitious, for he sent word with those delivering the painting to Rome that he would be happy to paint the altarpiece for the high altar as well. (64) The altar was dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin and St. Gregory the Great. Following the set Marian dedication of the altars, this was preordained to be a Nativity of the Virgin. The delivering youth included with him drawings and sketches of a possible work, implying that Barocci was well aware both of the program and the need. The documents recall an aborted canvas already "half done" (mezza fatta) and "roughed out" (sbozzo) for the King of Spain, indeed a Nativity of the Virgin begun some twenty years prior but eventually switched for a copy of another work, The Calling of St. Andrew. Emiliani has hypothesized that this "sbozzo" was the basis for the work brought to completion by Barocci's pupil Alessandro Vitali, the Nativity of the Virgin now in S. Simpliciano, Milan. (65)

As part of the church fabric, the altar was to be part of the general funding. The Fathers had used Federico Borromeo's money for the accouterments of the altar, and directed the Cesi's munificence toward completing the facade. (66) The honor of the high altar per se, however, was promised to Bishop Cesi and upon discovering Cardinal Federico Borromeo's stemma there, he withdrew his funding, creating a temporary financial crisis. Work on the facade stopped in March 1603. (67)

Just after Barocci had received a payment (20 March 1603) for the St. Ambrose's Pardon of Theodoric, (68) Ludovico Vincenzi wrote to Guidobaldo in Milan (16 April 1603) that "Barocci finally finished the painting for Rome," (69) showing the Milanese and hence Borromeo's concerns. It is only with this in mind that we can understand Barocci's offer to paint the high altar, reported to Borromeo 7 May 1603. Given the money that he and the Opera del Duomo were paying for the Milan cathedral projects, we can better understand Borromeo's advice to the Roman Oratorian Father Flaminio Ricci on 13 June 1603 to wait until September to decide on the matter. (70)

As everyone waited, Flaminio Ricci again wrote to Borromeo (27 June 1603), (71) but in vain, for payments continued to Barocci and his assistant Vitali for the Milan cathedral projects. The Fabbrica del Duomo ordered payments for St. Ambrose's Pardon of Theororic on 14 July 1603 to Vitali and 22 July to Barocci. (72) There is little doubt that the Oratorian fathers and Federico Borromeo would have liked Barocci to paint the high altar of the Chiesa Nuova. However, the Oratory's money problems and Borromeo's own payments for the Milanese works at the time slowed his decision. Shortly thereafter, Barocci's involvement with the high altar became impossible when the pope contacted the duke of Urbino (13 August 1603) for an altarpiece for his family chapel in Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The slow and elderly Barocci could not be pulled from this papal commission. Already on 1 October 1603 Barocci received his first payment (183,38 scudi) for the Communion of the Apostles for Santa Maria sopra Minerva. By the time Fl aminio Ricci wrote to Borromeo again in 1604, the opportunity to engage Barocci for the high altar commission had passed. (73)

A complex series of events then occurred. Since 1580 the medieval Madonna Vallicelliana had occupied the altar of the Purification of the Virgin (1 L). It was associated with many miracles, among which was one recorded later by Pietro da Cortona's fresco over the nave. In it Neri beheld the image miraculously keep the old church from falling upon it after a beam had broken. It was moved to the high altar by a decree of 2 August 1606, seemingly without any premeditation. (74) However, already in 1604--when Barocci's project was weakened but still alive--the image was included in Ricci's and Borromeo's discussions of the high altar. (75) The need to accommodate the image, in addition to the reliquaries that were recently provided by Baronio to honor the martyrs buried beneath the altar, ultimately led to the abandonment of the prescribed iconographic subject of the Nativity of the Virgin in favor of Rubens' eventual Sacra Conversazione. (76)

When Angelo Cesi died in November 1606, his family rapidly lost interest in Chiesa Nuova projects, and the Madonna Vallicelliana upon the altar provided a makeshift solution until a new benefactor, Cardinal Giacomo Serra, came on the scene. His money enabled talk of a true high altarpiece to resume, but by then he had in mind his own protege the young Peter Paul Rubens. (77) If Borromeo were not already making payments to Barocci's workshop in 1604 he might very well have been willing to fund the altarpiece, and the high altar might very well have been adorned by a Barocci painting, whether the Nativity of the Virgin or something else closer to Rubens' invention. Thus we can see how close Barocci truly came to completing the altarpiece for the high altar of the Chiesa Nuova, the "the greatest and most splendid opportunity in all of Rome" as Rubens excitedly wrote back to Mantua. (78)


It was probably the sight of Barocci's Presentation in the Chiesa Nuova at its unveiling in 1603 that led four months later to the commission of the Communion of the Apostles by Pope Clement VIII for his family's Aldobrandini Chapel at Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Fig. 5) (79) The pope had already been the guest of the duke of Urbino during his possession of Ferrara in 1598 and had seen Barocci's works and received a small gift of a gold holy water flask painted by him. (80) On August 13 1603 the pope communicated with the duke of Urbino's minister, Giacomo Sorbolongo, about an altarpiece, and he in turn contacted the duke. (81) Given the issues presented above, is it possible that the pope knew that Barocci's high altar idea would falter? Did he advance himself opportunistically?

The pope did not have the money issues plaguing the Oratorians, and he was able to win from Barocci one last great work. However, the very reason that the pope was aware of these happenings was because of his closeness to the Oratorians. The Communion of the Apostles can thus be considered a sort of surrogate Oratorian work. Neri had been Clement VIII's confessor until the former's death in 1595, and the honor was continued by Cesare Baronio. Baronio and Antoniano were at the heart of Clement's numerous Holy Year projects in the Navi Piccole and Nave Clementina. Furthermore, as Zygmunt Wazbinski has pointed out, Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, the childhood friend of Duke Francesco Maria II della Rovere, was then aiding the Medici with their tombs in Santa Maria sopra Minerva. (82)

By this time, the Cavaliere d'Arpino was the pope's most important artist, as Guerra and Nebbia had been for Sixtus. A middle-aged man, he was ideal to direct projects like the monumental transept decorations of St. John the Lateran, and occasionally provide, a fresco or altarpiece himself. (83) What status did Barocci hold now in Clement's eyes? He was a famous, and also an excellent, painter of altarpieces. The pope needed a devotional altarpiece, and for a combination of prestige and service, no one, not even the Cavaliere, could provide a better product. (84)

It is useful to pause and consider the prestige of this commission. Although not painted for a papal building, one should recall that Clement was succeeding Sixtus V's massive work; and after Clement's death and Paul V's immediate plans to provide a pendant chapel to Sixtus', the Aldobrandini family would have insured its richness. Furthermore, Santa Maria sopra Minerva was especially sought after because of its deposits of the relics of St. Catherine of Siena. The chapel was outfitted with the best polychromy and statues; Barocci's altarpiece was its final touch.

Like the Oratorian fathers, the pope desired to relate the work closely to its context, and he made the artist aware of the small space available, the design of the chapel, and how the back lighting of the window would shadow the altarpiece. (85) The duke of Urbino warned that Barocci had been sick and would require patience; yet the artist soon provided two drawings which the duke's minister, Malatesta, made available to the pope. Among them may be that the one in Chatsworth, showing Satan accompanying Judas at his communion. (86) According to Bellori, the pope was unhappy with the representation of the devil so near to Christ in depicting Judas' betrayal; Barocci then changed it. (87) However, the pope then wished it to be darkened to a night scene--so that it would be in conformity with the actual gospel--and finally accepted Barocci's plans. (88)

The painting was not finished when the pope died in 1605, when Barocci was already in his seventies. Meanwhile, although the St. Ambrose's Pardon of Theodoric was installed for Milan, the Fabbrica still awaited its companion, the Lamentation of Christ. Borromeo was sensitive to the pan-Oratorian need to balance Barocci's unique slowness against the demand for his work, and now he saw the problems he would have faced with a high altarpiece project. Not long after the final payment (July 1607) for the Communion of the Apostles for Rome, Giovan Batrista Talenro Fiorenza wrote from Milan to Francesco Maria 11(30 April 1608) complaining about Barocci's tardiness. (89) Barocci wrote (21 May 1608) that he was almost finished with the Lamentation of Christ, but the death of his brother made it difficult for him to work. (90)

On 24 July 1608 the duke reported to Cardinal Pierro Aldobrandini, nephew of the deceased Pope Clement VIII, that the Communion of the Apostles was finished. In 1609 it was installed in the chapel, which had nor yet been finished because of the cardinal's exile after his uncle's demise. The final negotiations were done with this nephew, but in the end Barocci's extravagant 1,600 scudi fee was paid directly by the duke, as a gift to the pope's memory.

In conception the Communion of the Apostles is not so different from the Presentation, save for the nocturnal setting. The preponderance of black makes the yellow and orange of the apostles' already bright robes that much more brilliant. The foreground shadowed figures and theatrical drape across the top enhance the illuminated emergence of the miraculous scene.

There was some negative critical reception by 1611, comments that the painting was too small and was overwhelmed by the statues and niches of the chapel. (91) Walters has taken this criticism to mean that Barocci's works "never were meant for the bruising Roman light nor, for that matter, to shed light themselves on the Church Triumphant." (92) While he may be correct that the work loses itself in the chapel, John Shearman has remarked positively how when seen in situ in the chapel, "its figures have seemed to glow like jewels among black velvet." (93) We can raise the question of who could have successfully negotiated such a commission. The pope, after all, requested a night scene in a dark chapel. Furthermore, if it is correct that Carlo Maderno's altar design had to accommodate the flanking statues already in place, then Barocci was faced with a fixed area. (94)

Walters also hints that, because of this disappointment, the duke of Urbino was forced to pay for the painting. This is an assumption of quite far-reaching consequences. It suggests that the work was for all practical purposes rejected and that it remained in the chapel only because of the duke's intervention. But it was not unusual that Barocci's fee was paid by Francesco Maria II, who did so as an act of generosity and respect. (95) The further inference that Barocci did not fit in with the times is more debatable. Bellori noted that the painting was held in such high esteem by the pope, he "not only gave Barocci the highest praise, but also presented the artist with a golden necklace of great value." (96) Bellori was of course wrong that the pope was alive to receive the work, but the story points to a Seicento writer's positive assessment of a work he could be expected to know something about.

Barocci died in 1612 and never finished his Lamentation of Christ. Neri (1595), Baronio (1607), and Clement VIII (1605) had all died as well, but it is significant that Federico Borromeo, the youngest of the patrons, continued his interest in Barocci well into the seventeenth century. He continued to acquire works by Barocci's students, including a Mater Dolorosa and Imago Pietatis by Viviani and a copy of the Rest on the Flight from Egypt from Virali. (97) Finally, the above-mentioned Nativity of the Virgin, probably finished by Vitali, eventually made its way to a Milanese church (San Simpliciano). If indeed it was the basis of the work intended for the Chiesa Nuova, it is a beautiful irony that Borromeo after all acquired it. (98)


Barocci as an Oratorian painter is an unexamined commonplace. With an eye to caution, one must review this connection. It is important to contextualize the four altarpiece projects for the Chiesa Nuova with the contribution of Federico Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, and also an important patron of the Oratory who was concurrently negotiating his own Barocci commissions (in fact, four to mirror those of the Oratorians). By considering some facts of the patronage of Barocci simultaneously--especially the chronology surrounding the years around 1600-04--it is easier to understand Borromeo's and the Oratorians' dealings and the way that the completed projects actually succeeded.

Borromeo lost the commission for a S. Prassede from Barocci for Milan's cathedral in 1592 because of the Roman Oratorian commitment, among others, for the Presentation of the Virgin. Anticipating the Presentation's completion, he successfully obtained the Nativity and then, further heartened, proposed the twin altarpieces for the cathedral (St. Ambrose's Pardon of Theodoric, Lamentation of Christ). Later, his own Milanese commitments for duomo altarpieces made him hesitate to contribute to a Nativity of the Virgin for the high altar in Rome. We need not ask why, if Barocci was so popular, more works weren't commissioned. They were commissioned but there was no chance that the artist would ever finish them. Barocci's popularity in the Oratorian community actually had the negative effect of diminishing the number of works he would provide for posterity.

While Barocci did nor live in Rome and many commissions were fueled by his reputation and the desire of the patrons to possess works by him, there was also a bond between artist and religious body. Nor only Filippo Neri but also Cesare Baronio, Federico Borromeo, and Clement VIII held Barocci in special regard.

* This research was supported by a Fulbright Fellowship, for which I am grateful. I wish to express my thanks to Marcia Hall, who helped me first express these ideas; Padre Alberto Venturoli of the Archivio of the Chiesa Nuova; and Mons. Marco Maria Navoni, Sig. Nino Cellamaro and the staff of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, for aiding my research. Pamela Jones very generously allowed me to check my transcription of letters #1176 and 1177 and provided the text of letters #1301 and 1302, and offered kind encouragement. In this study, the following abbreviations are used: ACO: Archivio della Congregazione dell'Oratorio di Roma; ACN: Archivio della Congregazione Napoli; ASFD: Archivio Storico della Fabbrica del Duomo (Milan); BA: Biblioreca Ambrosiana.

(1.) Bellori, 1978, 20; 1976, 190: "per lo zelo che aveva San Filippo Neri loro institutore che le sacre imagini si dipingessero da mani eccellenti, fu dato a fare al Barocci il quadro dell'altare."

(2.) On Filippo Neri and the Oratorians, see Cistellini, 1989; and Zuccari, 1981a, 1981b.

(3.) Lingo, 265. Obviously, the most famous example of Oratorian piety is Walter Friedlander's discussion of Caravaggio.

(4.) On Borromeo, see Gabrieli; Agosti; and Jones.

(5.) Why the Oratorians were interested in Barocci is beyond the scope of this essay, but is a feature of my dissertation, "Federico Barocci, the Art of Painting and the Rhetoric of Persuasion," Temple University, 2002. In particular, Barocci is linked to "Christian optimism." The term derives from Cardinal Agostino Valier's (1531-1606) work, Philippus. Dialogus de laetitia christiana, (Valier, 1800 and 1975), a tract devored to Neri. Significantly, Federico Borromeo was one of the work's interlocutors. On Christian optimism, see Dupront; and Jones, 9-10, 87-89. The connection to Barocci was made by Emiliani, 1:xxxiv-xxxv.

(6.) On the status of the concept of the "Counter-Reformation," see O'Malley. He prefers "Early Modern Catholicism."

(7.) On Sixtus V's public commissions, see Zuccari, 1992, and Hall, 1999.

(8.) During his papacy, Sixtus V promoted the Franciscan St. Bonaventure (1217-74) to a Doctor of the Church, just as his namesake, Sixtus IV della Rovere, had elevated him to sainthood 100 years earlier.

(9.) On the decoration of the Gesu, see Hibbard, 1972.

(10.) On the building and decoration of the Chiesa Nuova see Strong; Kummer; and Barbieri et al

(11.) This was pioneered in Florence by Cosimo and Vasari; see Hall, 1979.

(12.) Bonadonna Russo, 1968.

(13.) Lavin, 255.

(14.) ACO, C.I.2, 30; cited in Barbieri et al., 178-79: "Che per deliberare soprala pittura della Cappella della famiglia Caetano si mettaperprovare un cartonecol Golgotha" (slightly adjusted).

(15.) Zuccari, 1995; Hall sees a commonality in "an understanding that the worshipper's affective participation must be solicited" (1999, 445).

(16.) We must not overlook an entrepreneurial motivation on Barocci's part. As Louis Richards (Bellori, 1978) points out, each had a ten-year copyright attached to it, the second at the outset in the anticipation of great popularity. I do not list Barocci's Annunciation, for it was done after he had won the Roman commission.

(17.) Gallonio, 135.

(18.) Bellori, 1978, 15; 1976, 184: "furono vane tutte le cure che il cardinale della Rovere fece usare per la sua salute da' medici li piu esperti."

(19.) On the watch, see Morpurgo, and Panicali. Panicali only wishes to concede that the watch was owned by the Congregation, but Morpurgo cites the testimony of Giovanni Battista Zazzara (27 July 1596, the year after Neri's death), noting Neri's watch, "toccondola con il dito, cognosceva che hora era."

(20.) Lingo, 248; with further reference to La Regola e la Fama, 210-30.

(21.) On Pinelli and Fermo, see Barbieri et al., 79; compare Cistellini, 1:269-73, 307, 420-28, 672. The communities were established and ratified (in parenthesis) in the following years: San Severino, 1579 (1585); Fermo, 1582 (1597); Camerino (1591); Fano, 1598 (1608). Compare Mariano.

(22.) On Francesco Maria II and the architect, see Cistellini, 1:424, n. 59.

(23.) Both Tommaso Bozzi (1548-1610) from Gubbio and Flaminio Ricci (1545-1610) from Fermo entered the Congregation in 1571.

(24.) The most important sites were the Santa Casa at Loreto (where Barocci contributed the Annunciation now in the Vatican) and the Santuario di Sta Maria delle Vergini at Macerata. On these monuments see Dal Poggetto.

(25.) Santi di Tito was in Urbino around 1595 on his return trip from Loreto. Bury, 351, n. 57.

(26.) The Visitation, which measures 285 x 187 cm, was finished in 1586; Olsen, 179; Emiliani, 2:217-29. For a color reproduction, see Emiliani, 2:216, and Turner, 103.

(27.) See ACO, C.I.2, 21,7.6.1582; cited in C. Barbieri et al.: "Che il quadro della cappella di m[aestro] Francesco Pizzomiglio si processi di farlo fare da m[aestro] Federico Barocci da Urbino overo del Mutiano con m[aestro] Federico la opera il mezzo di m[aestro] Antonio da Faenza" (transcription corrected).

(28.) Further correspondence between Cardinal Cesi and Duke Francesco Maria II is in Pesaro, Biblioteca Oliveriana, 1608, fascicolo 1, Cesi to Duke of Urbino, 9 March 1585.

(29.) Grazioso Graziosi to Duke Francesco Maria II, cited in Gronau, 157: "La tavola... piace tanto generalmente ad ogni uno, dico ancora a quelli della professione, che non occorre farvi su pensiero alcuno. Se gli e fatta per tre giorni continui la processione a vederla."

(30.) Gronau, 188-89.

(31.) Alberto Castellano's Rosario della gloriosa Vergine Maria appeared in Venice first in 1521 and thereafter in several editions (1534, 1566, 1567). Castellano (d. 1522) was a Dominican friar from Venice. On Castellano's influence on Barocci, see Zuccari, 1995, 345.

(32.) The old church was demolished in 1575. In 1582 Martino Longhi began rebuilding the church: choir and cupola in 1590-91, in 1592-93 barrel vault over nave, and 1604-06 facade. Patrons saw to the decoration of their individual chapels until 1582. However, in 1594 it was decided to enlarge the church and make the old private chapels part of the aisles. As Alessandro Nova has shown, Longhi's original design was used for S. Girolamo degli Schiavoni, a single-entrance work. The new design required two side entrances for the aisles. The new chapels were built from then until as late as 1617 (with the exception of the chapel of Pieta -- that which Caravaggio would eventually decorate -- which had special indulgences), and the transept in 1588. The chapel of the Visitation was not altered until after Neri's death because of his affection for Barocci's work, discussed below. Briefly, see Connors, 8-10.

(33.) He was paid "nel refondare et alzare la parte di muro dreto la cappella della Visitatione" in 1598; Barbieri et al., 128.

(34.) Incisa della Rochetta and Vian, 1:273,330, 337, 340; 2:113, 125. Federico Borromeo also contributed his testimony (3:420-25) although he does not mention the anecdote.

(35.) Bacci, 1622, 192: "stava ... nella Gappella della Visitazione dove si tratteneva volentieri piacendogli assai quell" immagine del Barocci." The story does not appear in the first, unillustrated, life of Neri by Gallonio.

(36.) Baglione, 134: "egli staua in quella cappella a far le sue orationi." Bellori, 1978, 18; 1976, 190: "Dicesi che San Filippo si compiaceva molto di questa imagine, e spesso si ritirava nella cappella alle sue divote contemplazioni."

(37.) On Clement's patronage of the arts, see Abromson; Macioce; and Freiberg.

(38.) Clement's father. Silvestro, had worked there in exile from the Medici, and Clement himself was born in Fano. His sister Giulia married and continued to live in Senigallia. Her son, Cinzio, was a cardinal whose titulus (like Giulio della Rovere and the della Rovere popes, Sixtus IV and Julius II) was S. Pietro in Vincoli.

(39.) G. Fedeli to Talpa, 6 December 1591, ACN.XI.1.174; cited in Ponnelle and Bordet, 414; Cisrellini, 1:757; and Barbieri et al., 190, n. 395. I was unable to travel to Naples and thus could not transcribe this document.

(40.) Ibid., 89, 117.

(41.) The chapel was dedicated in 1593, and Paris Nogari frescoed it in the same year. Cesari was commissioned 11 December 1592. See Rottgen, 125-26.

(42.) The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple measures 383 x 247 cm; Olsen, 190-91 (written before the cleaning revealed the date), and Emiliani 2:347-59. For a color reproduction, see Emiliani, 2:346, and Turner, 106.

(43.) ASFD, Ordinazioni Capitolari; cited in Bonomelli, 21.

(44.) Sangiorgi, 31.

(45.) On the Milan trip, see Gabrieli, 170. The Urbino trip is mentioned by Emiliani, 2:320. However, it is not confirmed in Rivola.

(46.) Emiliani, 2:307-15.

(47.) Letter of Ricci to Angelo Cesi, 30 March 1603, AGO, B.IV.19, 60-61; cited in Bonadonna Russo, 1968, 151: "incredibile applause et sadistrattione non solo nostra ma di tutta Roma."

(48.) Letter of Barocci to Ricci, 20 June 1603, ACO, B.IV.9, 723: "Al ritorno del mio giovane ho ricevuto la gentilissima lettera della quale ho inreso molto gusto e piacere, che sono restate sodisfatti de 1'opera mia, che ne ringratio infinitamente che m'habbia fatta questa gratia et di novo lo prego che p[er] sua bonta mi doni forte e me de le loro ferventi horationi, di poterli servire, come io desidero p[er] obbligo mio er pEer] molti meriti e bonta loro alli quali con ogni efetto di core, me li offero er recomando in gratia."

(49.) ASFD, Ordinazioni Capitolari; cited in Bonomelli, 21: "Incarico affidato a Federico Barocci di dipingere una tavola rappresentante ii Presepio." See also Sangiorgi, 19-20, 22-23.

(50.) Jones, 1993, cited four letters without disclosing their contents; they are from G inf. 261, which is a series of drafts of letters written by Borromeo between 1597 and 1600. The letters are: Borromeo to Fra Damiano (fol. 364r, letter #1176, 5 June 1599), Borromeo to Barocci (fol. 364v, letter #1177, 5 June 1599), Borromeo to Fra Damiano (fol. 39 It, letter #1301, 28 August 1599), and Borromeo to Barocci (fol. 39 1v, letter #1302,28 August 1599). I quote the complete texts fully below. In addition there are two others: Borromen to Barocci (fol. 302v) and Borromeo to Barocci (fol. 354).

(51.) Again, the Urbino trip is mentioned by Emiliani, 2:320. Again, however, it is not confirmed in Rivola.

(52.) Schmarsow, 165. The dedication of the Sadeler print reads: "Federico Borromeo Cardinali Tit. S. Mariae de Angelis Archiepiscopo Mediolanensi in devoti animi testimonium."

(53.) Borromeo to Fra Damiano, 5 June 1599 (BA, G 261 inf., #1176, fol. 364r): "P[adre] Fr[arer] Damiano cap[pucci] no, Molto R[everendo Padre] mio, sara darn l'ubbidenza alla P[aternita] V[ostra] di trattenersi a Utbino rutta l'estatte e cosi havrei voluto poter operate che Fr. Mario da S. Agnolo dovesse venir a Roma a predicar questo anno [i.e., 1600] ma essendo egli in concerto ai superinri di non eser saggirn buono per Roma bisognera haver patienza. Io non fb frerta al quadro per che non manchi ii s.r Federico d'Urbino di ridurlo ad ogni perferione come a lui med.o mi scriva er alla P[aternita] V[ostra] di cuore mi offero." Borromeo to Barocci, 5 June 1599 (BA, G 261 inf., #1177, fol. 364v): "S.r Federico Barocci, Molto Ho impetrata l'ubbidienza peril P[adre] Fr[a] Damiano da i suni superiori per rurra quesra estate, Si che egli potra alcuna volta veder faticar V.S. inrorno al quadro, se bene non voglin gia che egli la solleciri ma che ella con rutra la comodita sua arrenda pure ridurlo in ogni perfetione e si ricordi inranro di prevalersi di me ne tutt quel che in posso voler per Borromen to Damiano, 28 August 1599 (BA, G 261 inf., #130 1, fol. 391r): "P. Fr. Damiano. Ho senriro conrenro che la P. V. sia resrara consolara di esser richiamara a Urbino, clove di che havra anco contenro Il S.r. Barocci al quale scrivo ringratiandoin vivam.te ch'I quadro ha ricevuto che staro inrieramenre a gusto mio, er in vole resro particolarm.te obligarn come fu alla P. V. che sia stata mezzana di farmelo havere et con restar sempre pronto ad ogni piacer sun e della P. V. prego 11 S.r. Iddio." Borromen to Barocci, 28 August 1599 (BA, G 261 inf., #1302, fol. 39 1v): "S.r Federico Barocci. Ho ricevurn il quadto mandaromi da V.S. il quale corn'e bellissimo, e per tale renuro da valent' huomini di questa citta che l'hano veduro, cosi l'havro in moiro earn, e ne testa con mnlra obligatione a V.S. che ranro prontam.te si disposta a lei a compiacermene voglia che basta essermi offerta una volta per accioc he ella sappia quanta havro caro farli servitio in ogni sua occarrenza, piaciarle put dunque darmene occasione liberam.te che io per fine." Borromeo to Baracci, 11 December 1599 (G 261 inf., #1134, fol. 354v): "S.r Fedrica Barazzi. Malta Mag[nifi]co.Sig[no]re Foresta con obligatione malta stretta all'amorevolezza di VS. e del P[adre] Fra Damiano, per il quale ella s'e disposta a compiacermi del quadra ch' lo stimeto per una delle piu care cose che io mi habba si per esser opera della sue mani, come per esser stato ave pero di can case v. piu de parre di haver che resto contentiss.o. Non voglio gia che ella si persuada in alcun modo che io la debba ricevere in dana; se ben veggo q[ua]nto prontamente nel offeriste ma vorre pure che ella non per pagamento ma mi segno di recagnitione riceva quei denari che havro sempre di giovarli in agni sua occorrenza. Nan mancherb di operate che ii P[adre] Fra Dam jano non sia rimosso da Urbino per questa state e li faro sempre piacere conforme al merita sua che sara il fine c on pregar a V.S. dal Iddia quanta ella desidera."

(54.) Borromeo's assurance is partially cited by Bandera; Baracci to Borromeo, 2 September 1599 (BA: G 185 inf., #82). I publish here the full letter, with Bandera's quote in brackets: "L'obbligo tutta dov'essere dalla parte mia che VS. er si sia cosi degnata di gradire il quadra mandatoli, qual se ben conoscevo non easer degno di comparire in codesra citta nelle mani di tanro Principe confidai nondimena dall'altra parte, che dovesse (come spera) agni sua imperfettione ricaprissi sotto il purpureo manto dell'autorita sua, il Desideria certo stato (di cio se sia piu che sicura) et ella con la natura sua so non manchera di suplire in quella parte, ave avro (per non potere, e saper piu) mancato lo. La ringrazia infinitam.te dei singolari favori, et offerto fattemi, e ch'ella di suo pugno non si sia sdegnata d'honorarmi tanto, et insieme (andro di continua conservando quel viva desiderio, ch'arde nel mia core di servirla), me l'inchino, e bacia con ogni humilita la sacra ves re il s.r. la conservi, et essalti. D'Urbino ii di[eci]. di S[ettem]bre 1599. Di VS. Ill[ustrissi]ma et Rev[erendissi], Federico Barocci." Of curious interest is the notice from Borromeo to Barocci, 16 April 1599 (G 261 inf., fol. 302v): "Federico Barocci. M. mandera il quadro da Fossombrone." Fossombrone was the hometawn of Fra amiano and could explain the prior acquaintance between the Capuchin friar and the painter.

(55.) The Nativity measures 134 x 106 cm; Olsen, 197; Emiliani, 2:320; andJones, 227-28. For a black and white reproduction (I know of none in color), see Falchetti, 222. As Jones notes, the painting is first recorded in Borromeo's codicil of 1607.

(56.) The work was only sent as a wedding present for Philip III and Margaret of Austria (Gronau, 172). Duke Francesco Maria I' payments are almost concurrent with those from Milan: 19 August 1597, 272.44 scudi paid to Barocci for "un quadra della nativita di N. S.", Olsen, 197, writes that "the Milan replica by Barocci."

(57.) ASFD, Ordinazioni Capitolari; Bonomelli, 21. Later (23 April 1600) Barocci wrote a letter thanking the deputy of the Fabbrica del Duomo; ASFD, Mandati di pagamento; Bonomelli, 21-22. ASFD, Ordinazioni Capitolari; Bonomelli, 21-22. On 22 April 1600 Barocci received 200 ducatoni from the Opera del Duomo of Milan for the Lamentation; on 22 September he received another 300 lire for St. Ambrose and Theodosius; on 23 November his assistant Vitali accepted "quaranta scudi di dieci pauli l'uno, et diciotto grossi, e un reale e mezzo a buon conto del quadro che faccio per il Domo di Milano." On 24 June 1601 Vitali received "ducatoni sette e pauli venti che'egli mi ha pagato per ordine del Sig. Flaminio Ferrari"; on December 20 Vitali received "lire 300 imp[eriali]" and Barocci received "di scudi 100 d'oro (lire 600 imp.)." A document cited by Bonomelli, 21, immediately following a payment, again shows Barocci's intimacy with Borromeo; 23 April 1600 (ASFD Ordinazioni Capitolari): "soddisfare (come mio debito) tu tti codesti Sig.ri suoi colleghi e la citta insieme per l'opera promessa da me per il Domo di Milano. Si degnino pure (a lor cortesia) pregare il Signore che mi dia vita e santita che possa mandate ed effetto quanto ho promesso e quanto ho in animo di fare."

(58.) The painting measures 182 x 326 cm; Olsen, 228; Emiliani, 2:392. I know of no reproduction in color.

(59.) Bandera. I believe the time was saved by its being based on the cartoon for the Chiesa Nuova Presentation, but Barocci undoubtedly touched it up.

(60.) Sangiorai, 36: "II quadro per Roma e in buon termine."

(61.) Baglione, 110. On the Sora altarpiece, see La Regola e la Fama, 505-06. On the St. Peter's altarpiece, see Chappell and Kirwin, who report that Vanni and Passignano were called to Rome perhaps in late 1602; Vanni received his first payment on 4 December 1602; the work was done by June 1603.

(62.) Abromson, 184-85, Zuccari, 1981b, Smith O'Neil. A similar surrogate interest for Barocci was expressed in Milan in commissions to Giovan Andrea Urbani for a copy of the Stigmatization in 1601. See Sangiorgi, 30, 35.

(63.) Melasecchi and Pepper.

(64.) Flaminio Ricci to Borromeo, 7 May 1603, ACO, B.IV.19, 61v. cited incompletely in Olsen and Emiliani but completely by von den Muhlen, 269-70.

(65.) The painting measures 320 x 230 cm; Emiliani, 2:348, 367. Unfortunately, I know of no color reproduction. This Nativity of the Virgin was part of the collection of the Brera and was "repatriated" to San Sempliciano. Sangiorgi, 31, n. 1, has cautiously hypothesized that Barocci may have already shopped this altarpiece to S. Paolo Conversa in Milan (July 1600). It is plausible that once the high altar commission fell through, he proceeded to provide the altarpiece for S. Paolo, hence its presence in Milan.

(66.) An agreement of 28 June 1595 assured Bishop Cesi's rights to "mettere l'arme sue"; Ponnelle and Bordet, 419.

(67.) Cesi's contribution was 15,000 scudi to Borromeo's 4,000. It is interesting that they had corresponded before about artistic matters; see A. Cesi to F. Borromeo, 4 September 1599, BA: G 185 fol. 91r regarding a "ritratto di B. Jacapone."

(68.) ASFD, Ordinazioni Gapicolari; cited in Bonomelli, 22: "lire 570 imp." "a buon conto della tavola di S. Ambrogio, qual esso va' pingendo."

(69.) Sangiorgi, 40: "il Baroccio finalmente fini il quadro per Roma."

(70.) Letter of Borromeo to Flaminio Ricci, 13 June 1603, AGO, B.IV.9, c. 706; first published in Squarzina, 381 (incorrectly as Baronio): "M. R. Padre mio car[issi]mo. Jo non son alieno dall' opera propostami da V[ostra] P[aternita] con la sua lettern: et per l'inclinazione chi io ho ai padri, et alla chiesa, volonrieri l'imprenderei. Ma per altri rispetti di considerationi, io non posso hora deliberare, ne promettere cosa alcuna di certo. Al prossimo Settembre io potro meglio far risolutioni, et mi riserbo a quel tempo di dire a V[ostra] P(aternita] quel ch'io giudicaro di poter fare. Adesso io mi rac[coman]do alli orationi sui, e degli altri padri I quali sara contenta di salutar per parte mia. Et Dio nostro signori la contenti."

(71.) Letter of Flaminio Ricci to Borromeo, 27 June 1603 (BA: G 191 inf., fol. 107r) (cited but not transcribed in Calvesi, 402, n. 147): "Restano tutti i piu sodisfattiss.i risponde V.S. in materia del quadro per l'Altar Maggiore della n.ra chiesa, et in conseguenza con molt'obbligo alla sua buona volonta, che ne dimostra, et ne ha fatto conoscer piu volte con gl' effetti. Et perche la devot.e et part.e affett.e che ciascuno le porta grande come sa puo credere che ci compiaceremo tuti di quello, che in ogni tempo sara di sodisfatt.e a V.5."

(72.) ASFD, Ordinazioni Capitolari; cited in Bonomelli, 22: "ducatoni cento che fano lire cinquecentosettanta imperiali."

(73.) Letter of Flaminio Ricci to Federico Borromeo of 4 March 1604, ACO, B.IV.10, c. 425; cited in Bonadonna Russo, 1968, 120-21; and von den Muhlen, 270. Squarzina, 381, noting a letter of 6 March says a new patron -- Giustiniani, the predecessor already for Serra -- was proposed. However, she gives no reference. The letter does not seem to exist. If instead she meant the letter of 4 March, it does not support the discussion of a new patron yet.

(74.) On the celebrations that accompanied the translation, see Bonadonna Russo, 1987.

(75.) See the uncited passage of the letter cited inn. 73 (Ricci to Borromeo, 4 March 1604), where reference is made to the Madonna along with the other accouterments of the altar (c. 424).

(76.) This is the main finding of von den Muhlen, 269-70. She ascribes the change in program to Cesare Baronio.

(77.) Cardinal Giocamo Serra offered 300 scudi for the high altar only if the young Rubens was selected: Jaffe, 94-95.

(78.) Ibid., 119, n. 27.

(79.) The painting measures 290 x 177 cm; Olsen, 209-10; Emiliani, 2:377-85. For a color reproduction, see Ibid., 2:376.

(80.) The visit to Pesaro took place on the 3rd and 4th of May 1598. For the flask painting, a copy of which is in the National Gallery of Scotland, see Olsen, 199. In addition, the pope's nephew Pietro Aldobrandini was in constant contact with the duke from 1598 to 1601 for the purchase of properties from the estate of the duke's widow, Lucrezia d'Este.

(81.) ASF, Filza 149, f. 1652, 13 August 1603, cited in Gronau, 176-77: "Stasera uerso il tardi il Papa mi ha fatto chiamare, et quando sono stato dentro, mi ha detto ridendo, che se bene era cosa leggieri, per la quale mi hauea fatto dimandare, era pero un suo gusto et seguito, come fa fabricare una Capella qui nella Minerua in memoria de' suoi, Padre, Madre et fratelli, et desiderando, che nell'altare di essa ci fosse il quadro fatto da uallente huomo, se bene qui ce ne sono et in particulare ha Iseppino, non dimeno si sodisfarebbe assai hauerlo di mano del Baroccio."

(82.) Wazbinski.

(83.) Freiberg.

(84.) In the aforementioned letter of 13 August 1603, d'Arpino is referred to as "Iseppino." The same letter continues asking that d'Arpino not be told about the commission: Abromson, 93-94: "desidera non si sappia da altri tal pratica, massime per rispetto d'Iseppino."

(85.) On 27 August 1603 the duke acknowledged receipt of all the designs of the chapel (Emiliani, 2:377). The chapel was frescoed by Cherubino Alberti with a Triumph of the Holy Cross.

(86.) Chatsworth (inv. 361); Emiliani, 2:377. Velli suggests in her iconographical analysis that this would have been a unique Communion of Judas.

(87.) Bellori, 1978, 20; 1976, 198: "disse il Papa che non gli piaceva il Dimonio si dimesticasse tanto con Giesu Christo." Contemporary documents only record the pope's wish to change the gesture; Malatesta Malatesti to Duke Francesco Maria II, in Gronau, 181: Roma, 22 November 1603: "si potesse desiderare alquanto piu aperta et espressa l'attione dell'Istitutione del Sacramento cal moto della mano piu staccata in atto di porgerlo."

(88.) Malatesta Malatesti to Duke Francesco Maria II, in Gronau, 183: Roma, 21 February 1604: "vorrebe vedere la mano del Christo piu vicino all'atto del communicate e piu staccata dal petto, come fin all'hora parmi li scrivessi, l'altra che vi s'aggiunghino lumieri, che rimostrino esser stata di notte tale institutione stantissima, e pero mando l'un e l'altro." Efforts to ascribe the pope's request to a fashion for Caravaggio's works seem unlikely.

(89.) Gronau, 186; Sangiorgi, ed., 50.

(90.) Sangiorgi, ed., 51: "Ho fatro il carrone, er mezzo abozaro 1'opera, et turte l'altre fatiche da me solite farsi ho compite, resta solo che vi rimerre le mane, il che di gia avrei fatto se non mi succedeva la morre di mio fratello, qualie mi ha travagliato tanto, che ancor io gli ho havuto a fare compagnia, et sono stato un mese in letto."

(91.) Vatican, Urbino lat. 1079, 185r. cited in Orbaan, 187, and Emiliani, 2:379-80: "con molte figure che per esser piccole non corrispondono alla grandezza delle statue poste nelle faciata e nei nicchi della medesima cappella ornara di marmi finissimi."

(92.) Walters, 149.

(93.) "Shearman, 1976, 50.

(94.) Hibbard, 133-35.

(95.) The most conspicuous cases are Barocci's works for the Hapsburgs: the Flight of Aeneas from Troy (lost) for Rudolf II in Prague; the Calling of St. Andrew (Escorial) for Philip II; the Nativity (Prado) for Philip III; and the Crocifisso Spirante (Prado) for Philip IV All were paid for directly by the duke of Urbino.

(96.) Bellori, 1978, 20; 1976, 198: "oltre le lodi grandissime, dono al Barocci una collana d'oro di molto valore."

(97.) For Viviani's Macer Dolorosa and an Imago Pieratis in the Ambrosiana, see Jones, 261-62. The Rest on the Flight from Egypt was acquired sometime between mid 1611 and mid 1618 (when two inventories were taken). Borromeo also continued to show interest in Francesco Vanni.

(98.) "Agosti, 35, remarks that the work was "volura molto probabilmente dall'arcivescovo."


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