Federico Barocci (Italian, ca. 15351612)
Etching and engraving; sheet: 6 1/4 x 4 3/8 in. (15.8 x 11 cm), plate: 6 x 4 1/8 in. (15.3 x 10.6 cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1917 (18.104.22.168)
Although Federico Barocci produced only four prints, they were of great importance to the history of printmaking. Following the example of Parmigianino, a number of Italian artists, especially those in the Veneto region, had been using the technique of etching, often with supplemental engraving, to produce their prints since the 1530s. Yet Barocci's example awoke artists throughout Europe to the potential of the medium, which would come to replace engraving in the next century. In his Annunciation and his Perdono, Barocci showed how etching could be used to create a print that reproduced all the tonal values of a paintingafter decades in which such prints had been produced by skilled engravers like Cornelis Cort and the Sadelers. Barocci's painterly etchings were an important model for master printmakers of the next century such as Jacques Bellange (French, 15751616) and Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 16061669).
In the Madonna in the Clouds, Barocci demonstrated how an image full of spontaneity, tenderness, and luminosity, qualities very much in harmony with the emerging Baroque aesthetic, could be conjured up through the most minimal of means. His print was copied by both Agostino (Italian, 15571602) and Annibale Carracci (15601609)and could have been the main reason the latter gave up engraving for etchingand was admired by Rembrandt, who produced his own version decades later.