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Andrea del Sarto, Self-portrait, oil on wood, 47 x 34 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Andrea del Sarto, Self-portrait, oil on wood, 47 x 34 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence


Travel guide for Tuscany
       
   

Andrea del Sarto

   
   

The Italian painter Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530) was one of the most important painters of the High Renaissance. His highly expressive use of color is unsurpassed in Florentine painting. Though highly regarded during his lifetime as artisat senza errori ("without errors"), his renown was eclipsed after his untimely death by that of his contemporaries, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael.

With Michelangelo and Raphael working in Rome, Andrea del Sarto became the leading painter in Florence following the death of Fra Bartolommeo in 1517, and through his pupils, II Rosso and Pontormo, he was a vital formative influence on the development of mannerism.

Andrea was born in Florence on July 16, 1486. He was the son of Agnolo di Francesco, a tailor (Italian, sarto), hence the name Andrea del Sarto. According to Vasari, who was a pupil of Andrea, he was trained with a goldsmith from the age of 7. An earlier source identifies Andrea's master, quite convincingly, as Rafaellino del Garbo, a highly competent and successful painter of the late 15th century. About the age of 20 Andrea set up an independent shop with Franciabigio, although he did not matriculate in the painters' guild until Dec. 11, 1508.

Early Period

In 1509 Andrea received his first important public commission for five frescoes in the entrance cloister of the Church of SS. Annunziata, Florence, depicting scenes from the life of St. Filippo Benizzi. Two further frescoes, the Journey of the Magi and the Nativity of the Virgin, added in 1511 and 1514, illustrate the very rapid development of his style. Of the panel paintings, the beautiful Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine (ca. 1512; Dresden) shows his deep understanding of Leonardo's art, particularly in the expressive and compositional use of chiaroscuro (light and shade). Andrea was very selective in the ideas and motifs that he derived from his great contemporaries Fra Bartolommeo, Michelangelo, and Raphael. His figures are not idealized but warmly human and even humorous. He showed a notably early interest in Northern woodcuts by such artists as Albrecht Dürer, Martin Schongauer, and Lucas van Leyden; and his interest in sculpture was not confined to the antique but extended to the use of actual models by his friend Jacopo Sansovino, with whom he shared a workshop from 1511 to 1517.

Middle Period

Between 1511 and 1526 Andrea painted the famous monochrome fresco cycle in the cloister of the Scalzo, Florence, which is one of the masterpieces of High Renaissance art. The elaborate, painted architectural setting and the sculptural clarity of the narrative established new standards in monumental fresco painting.
Outstanding among the panel paintings of this period are the Madonna of the Harpies (1517; Florence) and the Wallace Madonna (1517-1518; London). In these mature works the outward gaze of the saints and the compelling vibrancy of the color demand the devotional involvement of the spectator.

It was probably in 1517 that Andrea married Lucrezia del Fede, a widow, whose portrait he had included in the Nativity of the Virgin. Despite Vasari's condemnation, which was so readily accepted and elaborated in the 19th century, there seems to be no real evidence that Andrea suffered either moral or financial ruin as a result of this marriage.
Summoned by the French king, Francis I, he traveled to France in 1518, but his stay at Fontainebleau was very short for he was back in Florence by the autumn of 1519. The Charity (Paris) and the Portrait of a French Lady (Cleveland) are the only surviving paintings that he executed in France.
Andrea may have visited Rome in 1519-1520 in connection with the important commission from Pope Leo X for the decoration of the Medici villa at Poggio a Caiano, near Florence, since Andrea's fresco Tribute to Caesar (dated 1521) at the villa strongly suggests a direct experience of Raphael's work in Rome.

Late Period

Comparatively little is known of the later part of Andrea's life, although his presence is frequently documented in Florence and his paintings offer no real evidence of any extensive travels. In 1520 he purchased a site on the Via della Crocetta and built a house. In 1524 Andrea took his family to the Mugello to avoid the plague. There he painted the Pietà (Florence), which, though more restrained in its color and emotion than the earlier Pietà (ca. 1520; Vienna), forms the point of departure for the deliberately appealing beauty of the late works. The increasing idealization and the sometimes arbitrary but acutely expressive color of paintings such as the Quattro Santi (1528; Florence) and St. Agnes (1527-1528; Pisa Cathedral) provided a rich source of inspiration for the young generation of mannerist painters. Yet the powerful devotional feeling in these works is evident from the exaggerated praise that Andrea received from writers of the Counter Reformation.

He died of the plague on Sept. 29, 1530, and was buried by the religious confraternity of the Scalzo in the Church of SS. Annunziata.

His Character

Andrea seems to have been a kindly, unassuming man with high professional standards and a profound understanding of humanity. He was genuinely pious, sometimes working for a nominal fee or, as in the case of the Madonna del Sacco (SS. Annunziata, 1525), waiving his fee altogether. Vasari interprets this as timidity and weakness, but it is more likely that Andrea, who was patronized by the Pope and the King of France, was sufficiently prosperous to afford such generosity. His popularity in the 16th century is demonstrated by the survival of an exceptional number of copies of his works.

Commonly referred to as Andreino, he was short of stature, as noticeable in the self-portrait in the Journey of the Magi (SS. Annunziata).

 
Andrea del Sarto, Self-portrait, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
   
   

 

 
Journey of the Magi


Andrea del Sarto, Journey of the Magi, 1511, fresco, 360 x 305 cm, Santissima Annunziata, Florence


   
Andrea del Sarto's impressively fluent and richly lyrical style is manifested first in his series of five mural paintings depicting scenes from the story of the spiritual founder of the Servite Order, Filippo Benizzi. They were created for the atrium of the important pilgrimage church of Santissima Annunziata in Florence from 1509 onwards. They were followed by two more frescoes with biblical subjects on the opposite side of the space, the last of which, the Birth of the Virgin is dated 1514.

The Journey of the Magi represents an almost unprecedented subject showing the three Magi arriving in train at Herod's palace displaying portraits of contemporaries.

 
Journey of the Magi, Santissima Annunziata, Florence

 

 

Triumph of Caesar


Andrea del Sarto, Triumph of Caesar, fresco in Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano

This fresco, no less than the other frescoes in the main hall of the Villa Medici at Poggio a Caiano, is brilliantly sensitive to its setting, which accounts for the angle and height of viewing and the open lighting. The content of the painting alludes to events of purely local import, such as the return of Cosimo de' Medici from exile in 1434 or the donation of the Sultan of Egypt to the Florentines in 1487 of a menagerie of exotic animals.
In 1582 Alessandro Allori added several details to the right-hand part of the picture.

 

 

Paintings in the Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence


The Annunciation (1512-13) Andrea painted The Annunciation for the convent of San Gallo which was subsequently destroyed in the siege of Florence (1529). The panel was then transported by the Augustinian Brothers to their new seat, San Jacopo tra i Fossi, whence in 1626 it passed into the possession of the Grand Duchess Maria Maddalena who transferred it to the chapel then being built in Palazzo Pitti. It is an early work of Andrea done when Pontormo was in his workshop.

The atmosphere is charged with ancient references quoted blithely in the theatrical background which forms a setting for the almost unrecognizable biblical story. It is usually interpreted as Susanna and the Elders - a Susanna who resembles a male nude; the Elders, three of them, lightly touched in with a few brushstrokes, are pointing to her up in an airy loggia worthy of Pontormo or Rosso. The two figures of the Madonna and the Angel in the foreground, accompanied by two angels, full of gentle human beauty, are vibrant with poetic intensity.
This painting shows Andrea del Sarto's general movement towards a more restrained, sculptural style. It was produced in the period after Sarto fled Florence during the plague of 1523, when he took refuge at the Camaldolese convent of Luco in the Mugello east of Florence. In the quiet of the country surrounded by the attentive sisters, he painted the Pietà for the altar of their church.

The composition of the Pietà with Saints, also in the Galleria Palatina , is predicated on the monumental figures set directly at the picture plane. The painter imposed his preferred x-shape on the design through the interlocking characters. According to sources, the face of the Virgin is a portrait of Lucrezia del Fede and that of Mary Magdalene is the effigy of Maria del Berrettaio, respectively the wife and step-daughter of the artist.

In the same period as the Madonna of the Harpies, according to the evidence of Vasari confirmed by stylistic links, Andrea painted another great panel, Disputation on the Trinity, for the altar of a chapel in the Augustinian church of San Gallo. At the time of the siege of Florence in 1529 it was taken to safety inside the walls, to San Jacopo tra' Fossi, as were the two earlier paintings (Noli me tangere and the Annunciation).
The altarpiece features Sts Augustine, Sebastian, Lawrence, Peter Martyr, Francis and Mary Magdalen placed before an indistinct backdrop of sky and clouds resplendent with a compact image of the Trinity.
The subject of the picture is not rare in central Italian painting during this period of spiritual and religious debate. We need only mention the emblematic solutions provided by Raphael for analogous themes with the Disputation on the Sacrament in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican, or the Ecstasy of St Cecilia, painted in 1514 for the church of San Giovanni in Monte at Bologna. Moreover, it was particularly congenial to the Augustinian clients of the monastery of San Gallo, who wished to present a theme dear to St Augustine, who is in fact depicted while leading a lively debate among other saints, in the presence of a stupendous Magdalene with the features of Lucrezia kneeling beside St Sebastian.[1]

Art in Tuscany | Andrea del Sarto | Paintings in the Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence


 


Andrea del Sarto, The Annunciation, 1512-13, oil on wood, 183 x 184 cm, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence


Andrea del Sarto, Disputation on the Trinity, 1517, oil on wood, 232 x 193 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence


Punishment of the Gamblers


Andrea del Sarto, Punishment of the Gamblers, fresco, 360 x 300 cm, Santissima Annunziata (Firenze)

Andrea del Sarto's early work echoes of Leonardo, Raphael, and Fra Bartolomeo can be observed, but it is the naturalism of Andrea"'s teacher Piero di Cosimo - in whose shop he remained from about 1498 to 1508 - that is most evident in his frescoes of the life of St Philip Benizzi. There are located in the atrium of the Santissima Annunziata, near Baldovinetti's light-filled Nativity. Throughout the series, Andrea retained the sense of outdoor light and atmosphere seen in Baldovinetti's fresco; this was suggested by the site itself, which was filled with sunlight. The fantastic landscape masses, jutting rocks, and trees in the scene in which the saint punishes gamblers derive from Piero di Cosimo.  

Andrea del Sarto's impressively fluent and richly lyrical style is manifested first in his series of five mural paintings depicting scenes from the story of the spiritual founder of the Servite Order, Filippo Benizzi. They were created for the atrium of the important pilgrimage church of Santissima Annunziata in Florence from 1509 onwards. They were followed by two more frescoes with biblical subjects on the opposite side of the space, the last of which, the Birth of the Virgin is dated 1514.

The Journey of the Magi represents an almost unprecedented subject showing the three Magi arriving in train at Herod's palace displaying portraits of contemporaries
.

 

Journey of the Magi
1511
Fresco, 360 x 305 cm
Santissima Annunziata, Florence
     

Baptism of the People


Andrea del Sarto, Baptism of the People, 1515-17, fresco, Chiostro dello Scalzo, Florence


The Cloister of the Scalzo was part of the building designed for the Confraternity of St. John the Baptist, founded in 1376 and called "dello Scalzo" because the cross-bearers in the Confraternity's processions was barefooted.

The Brotherhood was suppressed in 1785 by Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine, who sold off their property with the exception of the cloister containing sixteen frescoes in chiaroscuro, showing episodes of the Life of St. John the Baptist, painted by Andrea Del Sarto (1486-1530) (only two of the scenes were painted by Franciabigio (1482-1525), while Andrea was in Paris in 1518).

Painted between 1514 and 1524, the frescoes represent an extraordinary example of stylistic and technical perfection in the art of a Master, who played an important role in the complex artistic events of Florence at the beginning of the 16th century.
He played also a role now recognized as fundamental to the developement of Mannerism.

Art in Tuscany | Andrea del Sarto | Chiostro dello Scalzo

 

Choistro dello Scalzo, Florence
 
Andrea del Sarto, The Last Supper
1520-25
Fresco, 525 x 871 cm
Convent of San Salvi, Florence
Leonardo's Last Supper was copied and adapted in several refectories, particularly in Lombardy. Andrea del Sarto's fresco in the former refectory of the Vallombrosan monastery of San Salvi in Florence also testifies to knowledge of Leonardo's fresco. The impact and movement of Leonardo's figural composition have been moderated. Andrea's narrative is more human and touching; it reduces the heroic drama of gestures and figures. It shows a nearly enclosed hall, in whose articulations the row of apostles is embedded. The community at table with Christ is given a formal pendant in the form of a window loggia. A charming, anecdotal subsidiary motif results: two servants are conversing in the central opening. Above the entire scene is an arch with medallions displaying the Trinity and the saints of the order.  

 

 
 
Andrea del Sarto, Lamentation of Christ
c. 1520
Oil on wood, 99 x 120 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
   

 

 
 
Andrea del Sarto, St John the Baptist
c. 1523
Oil on wood, 94 x 68 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

St John the Baptist is a celebrated picture. Although actually disfigured by bad restorations in old times which have changed the background and diminished the splendor and especially the interrelation of colors, there still remains the frank, original and lively conception of this youthful figure.

The impressive image of the young Baptist, of an evocative power that in this case also one might call pre-Baroque, emerges from a dark grey background in which one glimpses the slightly pinkish rockface of a grotto. The athletic figure, the animal skin and the cloak are thrown into relief by a dramatic light that still illumines wonderful pictorial effects visible in the better preserved parts, such as the cross made of cane in the lower corner. These are the effects that will be taken up again by many of the Florentine painters of the 17th century.

The Cenacolo of San Salvi is possibly the one which most easily lends itself to the transformation into a museum, with its fairly large interiors on the ground and first floors. It was part of a Vallombrosan convent and it passed to the Ladies of Faenza. In 1511 a contract was drawn up with Andrea del Sarto for the decoration of the Refectory. Although commissioned at the beginning of his career, it was carried out slowly and was completed between 1520-25, a particularly fine period of the work of Andrea del Sarto.

Miraculously spared during the Siege of Florence in 1529-30, the fresco is placed under a large arch containing painted medallions with the Trinity and four Saints, protectors of the Vallombrosan Order. Andrea's personality and background are evident in the fresco's innovations. He appears to be influenced by Leonardo and the Roman work of Michelangelo and Raphael, revealed in a work of magnificence and pre-baroque spontaneity.

 

 

 
 
Andrea del Sarto, Madonna del sacco (Madonna with the Sack)
1525
Fresco, 191 x 403 cm
Santissima Annunziata, Florence
Returning to the quarter of the SS. Annunziata after the plague, in 1525 Andrea painted one of his most celebrated works in the great cloister, known as the Chiostro dei morti. It is considered to be the ultimate masterpiece of Andrea del Sarto's classicism. The solemn equilibrium, the quality of repose and grandeur, the supreme elegance of this scene illustrating the Rest during the Flight into Egypt, classically framed by the high step and the two pilasters, but laid out in an unconventional manner, make this fresco one of the loftiest achievements of the late phase of Andrea's art. The influence of Michelangelo (a number of figures on the vault of the Sistine Chapel are mentioned as prototypes) are elements in a language which is totally personal, powerful and mature.  

 

 
 
Andrea del Sarto, Virgin and Child in Glory with Six Saints
c. 1528
Oil on wood, 209 x 176 cn
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence
Vasari mentions this panel as having been painted for Becuccio, a glassmaker, from Gambassi, and adds that it had a predella with the lively portraits of Becuccio and his wife. (The two little tondi with the portraits are now in Chicago.) The represented saints are Lawrence, Onophrius, John the Baptist, Mary Magdalen, Sebastian and Roch. he panel was placed to an altar dedicated to the hermit saints Lawrence and Onophrius in the female monastery of the Eremite Benedictines, the Pieve di Sta Maria a Chianni a Gambassi.

The design is symmetrical, forming a three-dimensional pyramid with the saints circled round the raised divine centre, with those in front kneeling down to admit the viewer's eye past them to the Virgin located further back in the space. The painting well represents the late style of Andrea.

 
   
Fresco by Alessandro Allori and Andrea del Sarto (the signature) in Villa medicea di Poggio a Caiano, inside sala di Leone

X

 

 


Last Supper of San Salvi


 
Andrea del Sarto, The Last Supper, 1520-25, fresco, 525 x 871 cm, Convent of San Salvi

Andrea del Sarto, The Last Supper, 1520-25, fresco, 525 x 871 cm, Convent of San Salvi, Florence

 

"In the old refectory of the Vallombrosan Abbey on the outskirts of Florence, Andrea del Sarto painted the life-like Last Supper, his most spectacular masterpiece and one of the most beautiful paintings in the world. The Last Supper was begun in 1519 and was finished between 1526 and 1527 and he painted it in so good a style that his work was held to be, as it certainly is, the most smooth, the most vivacious in colouring and drawing that he ever did, or rather that anyone could do. For apart from all the rest, he gave such infinite grace, grandeur, and majesty to all the figures that I do not know how to praise his Last Supper without saying too little, it being so fine that whoever sees it is stupefied.

It is no wonder that, because of its excellence, during the devastations of the siege of Florence in the year 1529, it was allowed to be left standing, while the soldiers and wrecking squads, by command of those in charge, destroyed all the suburbs around the city, and the monasteries, hospitals and all other buildings. These men, let me say, having destroyed the church and the campanile of San Salvi, and started to tear down part of the convent, had reached the refectory containing the Last Supper when the man who led them, seeing and perhaps having heard speak of this marvellous painting, abandoned what they had embarked on and would not let any more of the place be destroyed, putting this off till they could not do otherwise". 
(Giorgio Vasari, 1568).

Art in Tuscany | Last supper frescoes in Florence



 

 


Portrait of Lucrezia de Baccio Del Fede


 

Andrea del Sarto,  Portrait of Lucrezia di Baccio del Fede, wife of the painter,( (detail) 1513-1514, oil on wood, 73x56 cm Madrid, Museo Del Prado

 

Art in Tuscany | Portrait of Lucrezia de Baccio Del Fede

 
Andrea del Sarto (1486–1530), Portrait of Lucrezia de Baccio Del Fede, between c and 1514; oil on panel, 73 cm (28.7 in) x 56 cm (22 in).
Prado Museum, Madrid
 
   


[1] We get the best possible idea of the admiration aroused by the picture from the enthusiastic words of Bocchi: "In this church there are three wonderful pictures by Andrea del Sarto: but the one on the right, with saints disputing about the Trinity, is of all pictures in all places the most wonderful. In this picture we see what a lively colouring, a drawing of rare quality, a unique mastery, can do. Who ever saw clothing so lifelike, or the reliefs of surfaces so marked, the features of persons so vivid, and liveliness so conforming with the truth?. . . It does not seem as if these figures were made of paint, but of flesh; not clothed by artifice, but by nature. But if for a moment we put aside the colours, and the artifice, we enter into the spirit of that which is true beyond any doubt; and it seems that the persons are thinking, and adopting bodily attitudes, and talking, and are anything other than painted."

The only additions one can make to this admiring judgment from the past arise from the recuperation of the exceptional colours of the Disputation, obtained by a restoration that has only just been completed. Apart from certain irreversible alterations, such as the oxidization of the verdigris spread by the painter on the mantle of St Sebastian in order to emphasize the effect of shadow in the folds, and apart from missing parts and abrasions caused by previous cleanings, the removal - or the careful and extremely prudent reduction - of the layers of dirt and coloured varnishes deposited over the surface in the course of centuries has enabled us to rediscover warm, intense and most refined harmonies of colour set against the deep blue-green space of a stormy sky. The "palette" now revealed to us appears very similar indeed to that of the Madonna of the Harpies, and confirms the theory that these two masterpieces date from the same time.


Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence
Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
in Florence
Florence, Duomo


Art in Tuscany | Giorgio Vasari | Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects | Andrea del Sarto

Galleria degli UffiziAndrea del Sarto, Madonna delle Arpie

Giorgio Vasari | Le vite de' più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani, da Cimabue insino a' tempi nostri | Andrea del Sarto

Gardens in Tuscany | Villa Medicea at Poggio a Caiano

Art in Tuscany | Last Supper Frescoes of Florence 

Museo Cenacolo di Andrea del Sarto Firenze | Il museo del Cenacolo di Andrea del Sarto occupa un antico convento dei Vallombrosani intitolato a San Salvi. Il nome deriva dal Cenacolo, un grande affresco raffigurante l' Ultima Cena, situato nel refettorio, opera di Andrea del Sarto e considerato uno dei capolavori della pittura del Rinascimento.
Nelle grandi sale del convento sono esposti importanti dipinti della prima metà del XVI secolo, che testimoniano lo sviluppo della pittura fiorentina di quel periodo. Tra le opere più importanti possiamo citare quelle di Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, Giuliano Bugiardini, Raffaellino del Garbo, Franciabigio, Bachiacca.
www.polomuseale.firenze.it/musei/andreasarto/





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This idyllic rural retreat with wooded valleys below and stunning views to to the Tyrrhenian coast and Monte Christo and even Corsica

 

 

This article incorporates material from the Wikipedia article Andrea del Sarto published under the GNU Free Documentation License.
This article also incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press. "Andrea del Sarto". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
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