Barocci – Brilliance and Grace

Barocci Poster

On Monday, having recovered from my Italian foray at Fizzano, I went to London to see the incredible Barocci exhibition at the National Gallery.

Little known outside Italy, as there are, astonishingly, only two Barocci pictures on public display in the UK, Frederico Barocci was a celebrated painter of the late Italian Renaissance.

The National Gallery must be congratulated in their bringing together of 47 of his works in a glorious well arranged display in their Sainsbury Wing.      Though the pictures were wonderful enough in themselves, I found myself captivated by his working sketches, mostly in inks and pastels but some fully worked in oils.

brocci madonna pastel barocci hand study barocci child study

He worked largely alone, with few pupils, and consequently many of his pieces took over 5 years to complete.  His meticulous drafting and inspired use of vibrant colour bring a vivacity and fluidity of movement seldom found even amongst the Great Masters, especially in draperies and clothing.   His imaginative compositions lead the eye irresistibly to the focus of the picture, without appearing in the least contrived such is his mastery.  His introduction of servants, workmen and others, often with bottles, bowls or tools, lend a sense of commonplace reality even to the sacred.

barocci last supper

His version of the Last Supper is just such a masterpiece.

The exhibition is only on until the 19th of May, but if you can possibly get there I would exhort you not to miss it.  One of the very best exhibitions I have ever visited.


Relais Riserva di Fizzano

sunset at Fizzano  There are places which one visits and, because of the occasion, they assume magical proportions in our memories. Riserva di Fizzano however is magical through and through all by itself!

The occasion they hosted was a wonderful wedding between my eldest son and his delightful Italian girlfriend, which brought together both our families for the first time.

Italo Zingarelli, the gifted Italian film producer, bought the borgo of La Macie  in 1973 and built up an excellent winery in the midst of the Chianti Classico area.  Along with the vineyards came the derelict hilltop Mediaeval village of Fizzano.  Italo’s brother Fabio, an architect, was set to sympathetically  restoring the village, which now provides 19 super apartments, plus a restaurant and an unobtrusive pool surrounded by vineyards and rolling Tuscan hills.

The staff were unobtrusively helpful and consistently cheerful, with nothing being too much trouble.  The restaurant, which perhaps unsurprisingly hosts cookery courses in the winter, served some of the best Italian food I have ever eaten.  And, believe me, I have eaten some in my time!

I am intending to return in October, just in time for the first pressings from their Olive groves, have another tour of their winery and shamelessly indulge myself yet again!!

My photos don’t really do it justice so I suggest you take their tour.