Vita Gazette

News from Italy

                                                            Il Putto che suona 

The eye of time: Rosso Fiorentino

Vita gazette – In a world of turmoil and full of anxiety as was that of the early sixteenth century, the painting of Rosso Fiorentino reflects all the concerns of the man of the time. his works are populated with grotesque, alienating, bizarre figures, often characterized by bewildered or worried glances, and by the total disruption of the balance and harmony that were one of the main achievements of the Renaissance.

Rosso Fiorentino (Giovanni Battista di Jacopo; Florence, 1495 – Fontainebleau, 1540), is the key figure of the first Florentine Mannerism. Rosso Fiorentino (so nicknamed for the colour of his hair) was a very original artist, intolerant of the rules, who proposed a personal style out of the ordinary.

For having been one of the main figures of Mannerist art, as well as, together with Pontormo, the initiator of Mannerism in Florence, Rosso Fiorentino can be placed among the great names in the history of Italian art. His work had a notable impact on many later artists: for example Giorgio Vasari, Giulio Romano, Ludovico Cardi known as Cigoli, Francesco Granacci, Francesco Primaticcio, Andrea Lilio and several others.

                                                        La Pala dello Spedalingo

Giovanni Battista di Jacopo was born in Florence in March 1494. The Rosso, a nickname that derives from the colour of his hair, will complete his training with Andrea del Sarto and the study of Michelangelo’s Battle of Cascina will be fundamental for him. In 1513, at the age of nineteen, he began to paint his first work, the fresco of the Assumption in the basilica of the Santissima Annunziata in Florence.

The Spedalingo Altarpiece, preserved in the Uffizi, one of his best known and most famous masterpieces, even if the decidedly unusual aspect of the work led the client not to appreciate the work. Around 1520 the artist was in Piombino where he worked for the local gentleman, Jacopo V Appiani, although we are not sure the dates of his stay. In 1521 Rosso Fiorentino was in Volterra, where he painted his greatest and most famous masterpiece, as well as a cornerstone of all Mannerism and the history of Italian art: the Deposition now preserved in the Civic Art Gallery of Volterra. Always in Volterra he also executes the Pala di Villamagna. In 1522, for the Dei family, he painted the Pala Dei which is now in the Uffizi. Still, around 1523 he painted one of his best-known masterpieces, Moses and the daughters of Ietro. In the same year, he moved to Rome where he worked on the Cesi chapel in the church of Santa Maria Della Pace, the same place where Raffaello Sanzio had worked a few years earlier. In 1527, during the sack of Rome, he was taken prisoner by the Germans, but then managed to free himself and take refuge in Perugia. In the same year, he reached the town of Sansepolcro, where he painted the Lamentation over the Dead Christ, another key work of his production, also known as the Deposition of Sansepolcro.

                                   Assunzione della Vergine di Rosso Fiorentino

In 1528 Rosso Fiorentino was in Città di Castello where, for the local cathedral, he painted Christ in glory. On Holy Thursday in 1530, he is involved in a fight that broke out in a church in Sansepolcro, where Rosso Fiorentino and his boy are forced to face some priests. The artist decides to go to Venice, where he is welcomed by his friend Pietro Aretino and then leaves for France, a place where, according to Giorgio Vasari, the painter had always expressed the desire to go. In France, Rosso Fiorentino became the court painter of Francesco I. In 1532, for Francesco I of France, he began to direct the work in the so-called Gallery of Francis I in the castle of Fontainebleau, which was to be decorated with a series of frescoes. He was involved in the project until 1539 and in the same year, he began, together with Francesco Primaticcio (Bologna, 1504 – 1570), to work on the frescoes of the Amori di Vertunno and Pomona, completed the following year. The artist suddenly disappeared, at the age of forty-six, on November 14, 1540, in Fontainebleau. The causes of death are not known with certainty: according to Vasari, the painter committed suicide, feeling a strong sense of guilt for having unjustly accused of theft a painter friend of his, Francesco di Pellegrino, who was later also tortured in prison. Vasari’s information, however, is not confirmed by any other source.

error: Content is protected !!