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Entries in Mannerism (27)


Daniele Da Volterra: A Michelangesque Mannerist

Daniele da Volterra - Michelangelo Buonaroti - c. 1544 - Oil on wood - 34 3/4 x 25 1/4 in. (88.3 x 64.1 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkOne of the works featured here has only recently been identified as the work of Daniele da Volterra (1509-1566) Michelangelo’s faithful follower and the author of a bronze bust of the great Florentine artist. Indeed, an inventory drawn up after Daniele's death lists "a portrait of Michelangelo on panel." It was probably painted about 1545, when Michelangelo would have been seventy. It was the source for numerous copies. The portrait looks unfinished, but Daniele has fully described the sculptor's features and his left hand, almost as though recalling Michelangelo's notion that, "It is necessary to keep one's compass in one's eyes and not in the hand, for the hands execute, but the eye judges.”

Daniele da Volterra - Bust of Michelangelo - Bronze, black patina, on black marble plinth - height: 13.8 in. (35 cm) - Musée du Louvre, Paris (click photo for larger image)Daniele da Volterra was a Mannerist painter and sculptor who probably first studied in Siena. Sometime after 1535 he moved to Rome. While there, he became a pupil and close friend of Michelangelo. He painted significant a fresco frieze in the Massimi Palace depicting the story of Fabius Maximus. That same year he painted his most famous work, the Descent from the Cross, in the Orsini Chapel of the church of Trinità dei Monti in Rome. He also painted Massacre of the Innocents and David Killing Goliath, among others.

In 1559 Pope Paul IV assigned him the task of painting in draperies to cover the nudity of many of the figures in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. For his performance of this task Daniele earned the nickname Il Braghettone (or Brachettone; “The Breeches Maker”), as well as an undeserved posthumous reputation as a prude.  


Sofonisba Anguissola: A Life Full of Surprises

Sofonisba Anguissola - Portrait of Elisabeth of Valois (1545-1568) - c. 1599 - Color on canvas - 68 cm (26.7 ″); Width: 54 cm (21.2 ″) - Kunsthistorisches Museum - Vienna, Austria (click photo for larger image)Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625) was the first female artist to gain an international reputation. Among female painters, she was unusual in that her father was a nobleman rather than an artist.

While beginning to earn a living, Sofonisba also taught her sisters Lucia, Europa, and Anna Maria to paint. Their humanist father gave the sisters extraordinary classical educations. He promoted them and their work shamelessly, sending Sofonisba's drawings to Michelangelo and eventually securing her service as lady-in-waiting to the queen of Spain, Elizabeth of Valois (1454-68), a position that gave her opportunities for painting formal court portraits that followed the norms for that type of imagery. While in Spain Sofonisba married the brother of the Viceroy of Sicily. Upon his death, she remarried and moved to Genoa and finally to Palermo in Sicily where she retired. She was famously visited by Sir Anthony Van Dyck in 1623, when she was in her nineties.

"Life is full of surprises, I try to capture these precious moments with wide eyes.” - Sofonisba Anguissola


Schiavone: Vigorous - Fluid - Painterly

Andrea Schiavone - The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche - 1540s - Oil on wood, transferred to masonite - Overall, with corners made up, 51 1/2 x 61 7/8 in. (130.8 x 157.2 cm); painted surface 50 1/2 x 61 1/2 in. (128.3 x 156.2 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (click photo for larger image)Andrea Schiavone (Andrea Meldolla) (c. 1510-1563) was an Italian painter and etcher, born in present-day Croatia.  His nickname "Schiavone" means Slav, reflecting the fact that he came from Zara, Dalmatia (then under Venetian jurisdiction).

He worked mainly in Venice, where he was on friendly terms with Titian, who—along with Parmigianino—was one of the main influences on his style. (The latter are both discussed elsewhere on What About Art?). Schiavone’s most characteristic works were small-scale religious or mythological scenes for private patrons, executed in a vigorous, painterly style. 

The painting featured here represents the marriage of the god Cupid (son of Venus) with the mortal Psyche, in the presence of Juno, Jupiter, Mars, and other gods of Olympus, as narrated by Apuleius in The Golden Ass. Originally an octagon (the four corners are additions), it was the central panel of a ceiling with scenes from the legend of Psyche painted by Schiavone in about 1550 for the Castello di Salvatore di Collalto, in the hills to the north of Venice. Schiavone’s fluid and painterly style and the exaggerated proportions of his figures were inspired by Parmigianino (discussed elsewhere on What About Art?) and were in turn important to a younger generation of painters, such as Tintoretto (also discussed elsewhere on this site).


Francesco Albani: The Annunciation

Francesco Albani - The Annunciation - n.d. - Oil on copper - 62 x 47 cm. - The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (click photo for larger image)Francesco Albani (1578-1660) was an Italian Baroque painter who was active in Bologna, Rome, Viterbo, Mantova, and Florence. He studied in Bologna with the Mannerist painter Denijs Calvaert before joining the Carracci Academy. While at the academy, he was an enthusiastic pupil. Like so many other artists from Bologna, he moved to Rome to study classical art, which he then applied with zeal to his own work. Albani's classicism can be seen in the altarpieces he painted after returning to Bologna, and in the cycles he painted on mythological subjects. 

Albani almost single-handedly created an appetite for light-hearted, pleasant works that lasted throughout the seventeenth century.

Albani painted many versions of the Annunciation, one of which is featured here.


Amico Aspertini: A Half-Insane Master

Amico Aspertini - Heroic Head - Tempera on wood, 37,5 x 36,5 cm - Christian Museum, Esztergom, Hungary (click photo for larger image)Amico Aspertini (ca. 1475-1552) was an Italian Mannerist painter from Bologna. Giorgio Vasari describes him as having an eccentric personality—in his word “half-insane”. This is revealed in his paintings, which are often bizarre in expression. Aspetini was in Rome 1500-03 and his sketchbooks of Roman remains (British Museum, London) are important sources about contemporary knowledge of the antique.

The monochrome painting featured here, with the stone-like frame, appears as a relief. It is interesting to note that the bust is not in the painted frame, but before it. This was an unusual feature at the time.