BAROCCI, Federico Fiori
(b. 1526, Urbino, d. 1612, Urbino)

Aeneas' Flight from Troy

Oil on canvas, 179 x 253 cm
Galleria Borghese, Rome

Federico Barrocci's Aeneas' Flight from Troy with Anchises, his son Ascanius and his wife Creusa is the second version painted in 1598 of a picture executed ten years earlier for Emperor Rudolf II of Austria. Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere presented Cardinal Scipione with this second version, which entered the Borghese collection before 1613. It was this painting that inspired Cardinal Scipione to commission a large marble group on the same subject from Gian Lorenzo Bernini (also in the Borghese Gallery). The myth of Aeneas, ancestor of Romulus and Remus, referred to the birth of Rome and thus confirmed the Borghese family's high status in the city.

Barrocci's many drawings of nature led him to achieve a spontaneity and naturalness in movement, colour and airy effects, and a silvery luminosity that was to influence the 17th-century masters, particularly Rubens. Never before had flames been painted so close to, with an energy suggesting even the crackle of the fire, from which Ascanius seems to be protecting himself by covering his ears. But the human delicacy of Barrocci's anti-heroic and anti-rhetorical figures was not to be really appreciated in Rome, because it could not compete with the classical antique statuary.