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Gopnik's Daily Pic: Bacchiacca in Baltimore

By Blake Gopnik

The latest feed from my morning musings about art and objects at www.blakegopnik.com.

bacchiacca.jpg

A Virgin and child in a landscape from the Baltimore Museum of Art, painted by Francesco Bacchiacca in around 1540. Bacchiacca is one of the stranger artists I know - which is why I like him so much. It's never clear if his oddness is willed and sophisticated, as a mannerist device (he was a Florentine colleague of Pontormo and Bronzino) or is the product of someone trained in old-fashioned styles (he studied with Perugino) trying, and failing, to come completely up-to-date. Look at how the pleating in the Virgin's headdress and halo is matched by the pattern of the rocks behind her head: brilliant artificiality or naive conceit?

I've got a feeling Bacchiacca was someone who couldn't paint or even think worth a damn - and had the courage to forge ahead, anyway.

By Blake Gopnik  | November 1, 2010; 9:18 AM ET
Categories:  Blake Gopnik, Museums  | Tags:  Daily Pic  
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Next: Gopnik's Daily Pic: Fragonard's sacred heat

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