Andrea del Sarto

Andrea del Sarto

2014: Michelangelo and his contemporaries.  Special tribute to Andrea Vannucchi (Andrea del Sarto) Firenze 1486 – Firenze 1530

He was a Florentine painter whose works of exquisite composition and balance were foundamental in the development of Florentine Mannerism. Sarto’s family name was probably Vannucchi, and his father was a tailor (hence “del Sarto”; Italian sarto, “tailor”). He was a pupil of the Florentine bottega with Piero di Cosimo and was greatly influenced by Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Frà Bartolomeo. Almost immediately he began a long association with the church and convent of SS. Annunziata. In 1517 or 1518 Sarto married Lucrezia del Fede, a widow whom he had, according to her testimony, used as a model for several years. She brought him property and a useful dowry. His portraits of his wife, Lucrezia (c. 1513–14 and c. 1522), can be supplemented by many others disguised as Madonnas (e.g., the celebrated Madonna of the Harpies), just as his self-portraits in the Uffizi. In 1518 he was summoned by the king of France, Francis I, to Fontainebleau, where he was preceded by a reputation based upon pictures made for export. After the siege of Florence by imperial and papal forces, he succumbed to a new wave of plague and died in his house. Documents withness that he was buried in the church of SS. Annunziata in Florence on Sept. 29, 1530.

One of his most amazing cycle of frescoes is housed inside the Chiostro dello Scalzo in Florence, not far from the Accademia Gallery. Visitors can experience the mastery of an artist admired by Michelangelo enjoying the frescoes of the small and intimate courtyard from a short distance, directly at eye level. Del Sarto was also teacher to Giorgio Vasari, who later became his biographer, describing him as faultless painter, “pittore senza errori” in the book dedicated to the Lives of the most illustrious painters of his day. He played an important role to the following developement of Mannerism. Sarto’s style is marked throughout his career by an interest in effects of colour and atmosphere and by sophisticated informality and natural expression of emotion. The general mood in the frescoes is always intimate and never rhetorical.

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