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Federico Barocci and the Oratorians: Corporate Patronage and Style in the Counter-Reformation

by Ian F Verstegen Truman State University
Pub Date:
Hbk 192 pages
AU$104.00 NZ$108.70
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In 1586, Federico Barocci delivered his Visitation of the Virgin and St. Elizabeth to the Chiesa Nuova in Rome. For the next quarter century, Barocci dominated the art scene in Rome; there was no other artist from whom it was harder to get work and no other artist charged such high prices. Having two important altarpieces in the Chiesa Nuova and two additional commissions discussed was an impressive feat for an artist living exclusively in Urbino. Why did the Oratorians monopolize Barocci’s talents in Rome and why does it seem that Barocci was their first choice when considering artists to decorate their church? What was it about Barocci’s art that appealed to Oratorian sensibilities and their vision of the artistic program for decoration of their church?

This book examines the relationship between Barocci and the Congregation of the Oratory, arguing for a distinct physiognomy of Oratorian patronage and exposing the function the Oratorians expected of religious imagery in contrast to other groups of their time. While explaining Oratorian patronage, it thus deals with a thorny question in social science: how can a collective body have unified intentions and actions? The result is a contribution both to the history of Italian painting and to art historical methodology.



Introduction: What’s in a Style? Barocci and the Oratorians

Chapter 1: Federico Barocci, Filippo Neri, and Christian Optimism

Chapter 2: The Altarpiece Cycle: The Rosary and Coordinated Devotion

Chapter 3: The Visitation and the Presentation of the Virgin

Chapter 4: The Nativity of the Virgin for the High Altar and the Institution of the Eucharist for the Pope

Chapter 5: Baroccismo into the Seicento

Appendix 1: Chiesa Nuova Altars and the Altarpieces Adorning Them

Appendix 2: Chiesa Nuova Timeline

Appendix 3: Order of Altarpiece Commissions and Completions

Appendix 4: Giovan Battista Guerra’s Renovations in the Chiesa Nuova

Works Cited


About the Author

“Verstegen’s analysis of the dates and finances of the commissions by both orders clarifies—both refuting and substantiating—earlier assessments of how each decorated their principal churches… the material presented allows for a better understanding of the order, those connected to it, and how artistic commissions of this period are rarely as straightforward as they may seem.”

—Alison C. Fleming, CAA Reviews

Ian Verstegen studied art with Rudolf Arnheim at the University of Michigan, which led to studies in experimental psychology at Rutgers University. He received his PhD with Marcia Hall at Temple University. He is currently the Associate Director of Visual Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.