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Barocci: a lesson in drawing

Discover the technical brilliance and creative mastery of one of the Renaissance's finest artists.

In this unique online resource, all of Barocci's surviving drawings for the National Gallery painting 'The Madonna of the Cat ('La Madonna del Gatto')' have been brought together, offering the unprecedented opportunity of tracing the development of Barocci's masterpiece from its initial conception to its completion.

Barocci's works, drawn from life and inspired by the people and animals that surrounded him, are characterised by a warmth and humanity that transform his religious subjects into themes with which all can identify.

He was an incessant and even obsessive draughtsman, preparing every composition with prolific studies in every conceivable medium. These drawings provide a unique insight into the mind of the artist at work, revealing how and when Barocci altered his piece in order to arrive at his final composition.

What you can learn

Discover how Barocci developed and adapted his composition as he worked and learn about the techniques and materials that he used in his drawings. Read about the different types of drawings that Barocci produced from sketches to finished compositional studies; what purposes they served and at what stages of the production process they were created.

From pastels to charcoal – learn about the different materials used in drawing at the time and how and why they were used. Explore the different types of paper used by artists; how they differed from each other and when they were used. These drawings not only help to reveal the specific techniques employed by Barocci himself, but also offer a unique insight into the practice and the methods of drawing used in 16th-century Italy.

Barocci: Brilliance and Grace

The National Gallery exhibition 'Barocci: Brilliance and Grace' brought together the works of this 16th-century Italian master for the first time in the UK. Barocci's preparatory drawings for his finished paintings featured prominently in the exhibition and provided an insight into the artist's creative process.

This project was made possible by The Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation and with the generous support of Sam Fogg; Mr & Mrs William Hobhouse; Lady Lever; Flavia Ormond; Barbara, Lady Poole; Hannah Rothschild; Sir Angus & Lady Stirling; and Tavolozza Foundation, Katrin Bellinger.

Image above: Detail from Federico Barocci, 'The Madonna of the Cat ('La Madonna del Gatto')', probably about 1575