Working near the end of the Mannerist era, Federico Barocci was given to unusual compositions and colors, as is seen in his Nativity with the steep, diagonal recession into space where Joseph opens the door to let the shepherds into the stable as well as the night scene highlighted with the bright oranges, pinks, and yellows in the garments. Nevertheless, the scene foretells the Baroque style with its indebtedness to Raphael seen in the sweet classicism in the faces of Mary and the baby Jesus.
The basket to Mary’s right is a motif often seen in Barocci’s paintings; it’s like a calling card. Certainly, this is an unusual yet lovely painting of the night Jesus was born.
Merry Christmas from The Art Minute.