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Tag Archives: Italian renaissance

Picture Books of the Past: Marietta Robusti

Enjoy this series of segments highlighting Picture Books of the Past: Reading Old Master Paintings, a loan exhibition of 60+ works from the M&G collection. The exhibit has traveled to The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. and the Orlando Museum of Art in Florida.

Marietta Robusti’s Allegory of Wisdom is replete with both Christian and mythological symbols. (Following your video viewing click HERE to access the additional information provided on the exhibition’s text panels.)

Object of the Month: January 2023

St. Sebastian

Oil on panel, c. 1529–30

Andrea d’Agnolo, called del Sarto (studio of)

Florentine, 1486–1530

Andrea d’Agnolo grew up in Florence and was nicknamed del Sarto meaning “of the tailor” after his father’s profession. Like other early Renaissance artists, he initially trained with a goldsmith, then studied under a series of three separate painters until he began producing his own works in 1506. He spent most of his life in Florence—except for a visit to Rome and a brief stint as court painter to King François I at Fontainebleau in 1518.

As the son of a tailor, del Sarto’s works reveal a unique understanding and love of fabrics—even seen in his 1517-1518 Portrait of a Young Man in London’s National Gallery, which may be a self-portrait (on right). Notice the finishes of the puffed sleeve, ruched white undershirt, and the vest’s seam at the shoulder.

Andrea was also influenced by his contemporaries who outlived him: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Once these masters left Florence for other parts of Italy, Andrea became Florence’s leading artist in the early 1500s. He is overlooked in art history; yet he is equal in skill and quality to the three greats, and his works are beautiful and still revered today. Julian Brooks, curator of drawings at the Getty, recognizes del Sarto as the “revolutionary engine of the Renaissance and the transformer of draughtsmanship” due to his careful and creative preparatory drawings, a practice which inspired the next generations of artists to follow.

However, he has been underappreciated, even to the point of his students overshadowing him to become famous including Rosso Fiorentino, Jacopo da Pontormo, and Giorgio Vasari, biographer of contemporary Renaissance artists. Vasari records details about his teacher as related to M&G’s work. A Florentine charitable organization for plague victims, the Company of St. Sebastian commissioned Andrea del Sarto to paint a picture of St. Sebastian, the patron saint for plague victims. He became a member of the Company in February 1529, perhaps as a result of negotiations surrounding the commission. Ironically, shortly after completing the painting in 1530 during Florence’s plague epidemic, del Sarto died from the plague at 44 years old.

Several 17th-century documents list the original St. Sebastian as the property of the Company of St. Sebastian. Publications in 1759 and 1770 mention that the painting moved to the Pitti Palace in Florence. By the early 19th century, writers could no longer trace the location of the original painting—apparently it was removed from the Pitti Palace and lost.

M&G acquired St. Sebastian in 1970 from the former great British collection of the Cook family. In 2005, the National Gallery of Canada requested St. Sebastian to participate in an exhibition, and we sent our work in advance for study and conservation. The conservator Stephen Gritt found, “In its materials and construction, the painting is entirely consistent with one from Sarto’s workshop. The complete absence of any change in the design from the drawing stage on the panel through to the painting would indicate perhaps that the design had reached a point of satisfactory refinement by the time this version was produced. While this may mean that some artist other than Sarto could have painted the work, it does not exclude his participation in its production as a supervisor.”

Regarding del Sarto’s workshop practice, Julian Brooks notes that “Andrea would have been closely involved in the production of all versions, or at least those produced in his workshop during his lifetime, and these were produced side by side in the studio.” He also made, used, and reused partial cartoons.

It is difficult to confidently confirm if M&G’s St. Sebastian is the missing painting by the master, thus the current attribution, studio of Andrea del Sarto. At the least, someone very close to del Sarto painted the work. Found in Italy, Spain, England, and Austria, more than 10 other variants of the St. Sebastian exist. Even so, M&G’s is considered by specialists as the “best surviving reflection of the original.”

 

Erin R. Jones, Executive Director

 

Resources:

 

Published 2023

 

Picture Books of the Past: Unknown Follower of Paolo Caliari, called Paolo Veronese

Enjoy this series of segments highlighting Picture Books of the Past: Reading Old Master Paintings, a loan exhibition of 60+ works from the M&G collection. The exhibit has traveled to The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D. C. and the Orlando Museum of Art in Florida.

This work introduces one of Jesus’s most devoted followers, Mary Magdalene. Notice that her clothing is of silk and velvet, the rich fabrics of a prosperous woman. However, this imagery of prosperity is offset by the murky background and the presence of a skull. Her body position (which turns her away from death’s symbol) and her long, flowing hair (reminiscent of her repentance) shifts the narrative mood from one of despair to hope.

Whatsoever Things Are… Worthy of Praise: God the Father

In this compelling composition Cristoforo Scacco uses traditional iconography to highlight God the Father’s creativity and sovereignty.

Whatsoever Things Are… Honorable: Ananias Restores Sight to Saul

 

Although much is written about the Apostle Paul, little is known of the courageous prophet who, at the Lord’s command, restored Paul’s sight.

 

Visit HERE for the next video to ponder those things that are Honorable.

Whatsoever Things Are… True: St. Paul

 

St. Paul, known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, was a passionate personality whose ardent zeal is well documented in Scripture. It is also beautifully captured in the nuances of this Mannerist work.

 

Visit HERE for the next video featuring Truthful things to consider.

Antonio Checchi (called Guidaccio da Imola): The Coronation of the Virgin

This is the only signed picture by this early Italian master. It also includes 55 faces!

 

The High Renaissance: Leonardo da Vinci

If Raphael’s paintings reflect the philosophic concepts and artistic tastes that shaped the time, Leonardo’s life and work highlight technical innovations that would take western art to a whole new level.

Giovanni Antonio Bazzi: Procession to Calvary

At the dawn of the 16th century Mannerism was gaining in popularity. Even noted Renaissance painters like Raphael began to mirror the style, but it was the Sienese painter Giovanni Antonio Bazzi who would push the mannerist vision even further.

Christ the Redeemer: Paris Bordone

Paris Bordone studied for a time under Titian, the greatest Venetian artist of the 16th century. Although forced to leave this great master’s studio, Bordone went on to excel in portraiture, large-scale architectural settings, and cabinet paintings.