The Virgin seated on a cloud

Artist: Federico Barocci (Italian, Urbino ca. 1535–1612 Urbino)

Date: 1580–84

Medium: Etching with some engraving

Dimensions: sheet: 6 x 4 7/16 in. (15.2 x 11.3 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1917

Accession Number: 17.50.18-147


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 from the 1530s used etching often with engraving to produce their prints. Barocci's example alerted artists throughout Europe to the potential of etching, which would become the dominant medium in the next century. Barocci's etchings were an important model for later printmakers such as Jacques Bellange (1575–1616) and Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669).

In this print, Barocci demonstrated how an image full of spontaneity, tenderness, and luminosity (qualities very much in harmony with the Baroque aesthetic) could be conveyed through minimal means. The variety of etched marks show the artist striving for the best way to convey the pictorial qualities he desired. The print was copied by Agostino (Italian, 1557–1602) and Annibale Carracci (1560–1609)—and possibily motivated the latter to give up engraving for etching. The print was also admired by Rembrandt, who produced his own version of the subject decades later.

For a trimmed impression, with additional information, see 27.78.1.(196) (Wilton Album, folio 57)