Jacopo Pontormo, frescoes in the Capponi Chapel, Santa Felicita, Florence
The Deposition from the Cross is an altarpiece by the Italian Renaissance painter Jacopo Pontormo, completed in 1528. It is broadly considered to be the artist's surviving masterpiece. Painted in oil on wood, The Deposition is located above the altar of the Capponi Chapel at the church of Santa Felicita, in Florence.
his painting suggests a whorling dance of the grief-stricken. They inhabit a flattened space, comprising a sculptural congregation of brightly demarcated colors. The vortex of the composition droops down towards the limp body of Jesus off center in the left. Those lowering Christ appear to demand our help in sustaining both the weight of his body (and the burden of sin Christ took on) and their grief. No Cross is visible; the natural world itself also appears to have nearly vanished: a lonely cloud and a shadowed patch of ground with a crumpled sheet provide sky and stratum for the mourners. If the sky and earth have lost color, the mourners have not; bright swathes of pink and blue envelop the pallid, limp Christ.
Jacopo Pontormo, The Deposition from the Cross (1528). Oil on wood, 313 × 192 cm., Santa Felicità, Florence
Pontormo's undulating mannerist contortions have been interpreted as intending to express apoplectic and uncontrolled spasms of melancholy. The Virgin, larger than her counterparts, swoons sideways inviting the support of those behind her. The assembly looks completely interlocked, as if architecturally integrated. Legend has it that Pontormo set himself in self-portrait at the extreme right of the canvas; but ultimately, the most compelling and empathic figure is the crouching man in the foreground, whose expression mixes the weight of the cadaver and the weight of melancholy.
he Deposition from the Cross is one of the standard scenes from the life of Jesus in medieval art, and because of the complexities of the composition, it is one in which Renaissance artists continued to take a great interest. Several years prior to Pontormo's masterpiece, the Florentine painter Rosso Fiorentino had painted a more phantasmagorical and gymnastically challenged array in his crowded version of the descent from the cross, the Deposition of 1521.
Pontormo's grieving crowds and brightness of color also provide a stark contrast to Caravaggio's somber Deposition from the Cross or Entombment in the Vatican Pinacoteca. The Deposition by Raphael in the Galleria Borghese shows a later, though related scene: the Entombment of Christ.
In addition to works of the same subject by other artists, Pontormo's own work from the time provides a useful comparison. The decoration in the dome of the Capponi chapel is now lost, but four roundels with the Evangelists still adorn the pendentives, which were painted by both Pontormo and his apprentice Bronzino. The swathed drapery inThe Visitation (1529) in the church of San Michele e Francesco at Carmignano bears a striking resemblance to that in the Deposition. The contrapposto of the figures can be compared to Pontormo's Annunciation (1520s) frescoed on the adjacent wall.
Pontormo (Jacopo Carucci), The Archangel Gabriel, modello for the fresco in the Capponi Chapel, S. Felicita, Florence, c. 1527-28, (black chalk, brown wash, traces of red chalk, white heightening, squared, 391 x 215 mm.), Gabinetto dei Disegni, Uffizi, Florence
 For an historiographic look at the use of the term mannerism see Craig Hugh Smyth, "Manerism and Maniera" (1963), reprinted in Liana de Girolami Cheney, ed, Readings in Italian Mannerism, with foreword by Craig Hugh Smyth (New York: Peter Lang, 1997, 2004), pp. 69-112.
 The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain
Mannerism: Bronzino (1503–1572) and his Contemporaries | Derived from the Italian maniera, used by sixteenth-century artist and biographer Giorgio Vasari, the term Mannerism refers to the movement in the visual arts that spread through much of Europe between the High Renaissance and Baroque periods. It originated in Italy, where it lasted from about 1520 to 1600, and can be described as "mannered" in that it emphasized complexity and virtuosity over naturalistic representation. While the formal vocabulary of Mannerism takes much from the later works of Michelangelo (1475–1564) and Raphael (1483–1520), its adherents generally favored compositional tension and instability rather than the balance and clarity of earlier Renaissance painting. Some characteristics common to many Mannerist works include distortion of the human figure, a flattening of pictorial space, and a cultivated intellectual sophistication.
Certain aspects of Mannerism are anticipated in the work of Andrea del Sarto (1486–1530). Although Andrea's style was rooted in the artistic ideals of the High Renaissance, such as the integration of naturally proportioned figures in a clearly defined space, his expressive use of vibrant color and varied, complex poses inspired the first generation of Mannerist painters in Florence (22.75; 32.100.89). Foremost among this group were Andrea's students Jacopo da Pontormo (1494–1556) and Rosso Fiorentino (1494–1540). The intense tones and gracefully choreographed figures in Pontormo's crowded Deposition in the Church of Santa Felicita heighten the emotional pitch of the picture and show a taste for elegance and artifice also seen in the stylized head and intricately braided hairstyle of Rosso's Woman with an Elaborate Coiffure (19.76.11; 52.124.2; 49.97.233). Active at the same time as these innovative artists, Bacchiacca (1495–1557) developed an eclectic mode that combined Mannerist influences and quotations from Northern artists like Albrecht Dürer and Lucas van Leyden with older Renaissance conventions (38.178; 1982.60.11).
By 1540, Pontormo's student Agnolo Bronzino (1503–1572) had become the leading artist working in this style in Florence and court painter to Cosimo I de' Medici, grand duke of Tuscany. Ducal patronage played an important part in Bronzino's career, as well in those of his contemporaries working in the Medici court, Francesco Salviati (1510–1563) and Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574). His official portraits of Cosimo I and his wife, Duchess Eleonora of Toledo, demonstrate Bronzino's extraordinary technical skill and convey an atmosphere of aristocratic dignity (08.262). Typical of Bronzino are the extremely refined execution and graceful silhouette of his Portrait of a Young Man, in which the book, costume, and affected pose of the subject highlight his learning and social status (29.100.16). Portraits by Salviati capture a similar sense of sophistication and formality in their meticulous treatment of the sitter's fashionable dress (55.14; 45.128.11). The high maniera developed by these painters is also marked by an appreciation for intellectual complexity. Vasari's design for a decorative painting in the Palazzo Vecchio illustrates the mythological references and complicated allegories in vogue among the Florentine elite (1971.273).
By the mid-sixteenth century, the influence of Mannerism had spread far beyond Florence. Two important representatives of the movement in northern Italy were Parmigianino (1503–1540)—active in Parma, Bologna, and Rome—and the Venetian artist Jacopo Tintoretto (1518–1594). The highly individual styles of these two painters incorporate the elongated figure proportions, twisted poses, and compression of space that distinguish central Italian Mannerism (1982.319; 13.75). Moreover, Italian artists employed by King Francis I at Fontainebleau made Mannerism the dominant style in France.
[Finocchio, Ross. "Mannerism: Bronzino (1503–1572) and his Contemporaries". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/zino/hd_zino.htm (October 2003)]
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The façade and the bell tower of
San Marco in Florence
San Quirico d'Orcia
Monte Christo, evening sunset
The Barbadori Chapel, later Capponi Chapel, is a chapel in the church of Santa Felicita in Florence, central Italy. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, and was later decorated by a cycle of works by the Mannerist painter Pontormo. Bartolomeo Barbadori commissioned the construction of a family chapel in the church around 1420. After the destruction of the Ridolfi chapel in San Jacopo sopr'Arno, this chapel is the oldest existing among those designed by Brunelleschi. Dedicated to the Virgin, it was most likely built to honor a fresco of the Annunciation, painted on the counter-façade. In the same point Pontormo frescoed the same subject.
In 1487 the chapel was acquired by Antonio Paganelli, whose heir Bernardo Paganelli, in 1525, sold it to the Capponi family. The latter had it restored and decorated by Jacopo Pontormo, with help from a young Agnolo Bronzino.
In 1722 Ferrante Capponi had the chapel restored again, adding a new altar with polychrome marble and closing it with a wrought iron enclosure which is still existing. A tondo by Pontormo, depicting the Madonna with Child, was perhaps moved in this period from the chapel to the Capponi private palace.
The chapel was built by Brunelleschi in the period in which he was active in the Spedale degli Innocenti, and was still supporting the feasibility of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore. He had already studied a reduced version of his subject for the latter in the dome of the Ridolfi Chapel and repeated it in the Barbadori Chapel, though now his design has been hidden by later reconstructions.
Originally, the semi-spherical dome was supported by a cubic hall with four pendentives between the round arches of the walls. In each of the pendentives was a blind circular window, now replaced by the frescoes by Pontormo and Bronzino. Also a new feature for the time was the use of double Ionic semicolumns, instead of the traditional Gothic pilasters. The two columns, on the external side, are supported by angular Corithian pilasters. The theme, already used for the portico of the Spedale degli Innocenti, was repeated by Brunelleschi with little variants in the Sagrestia Vecchia and the Pazzi Chapel.
Paintings and other artworks
At the high altar, enclosed in its original 16th century frame, is the masterwork of the Mannerist painter Pontormo, depicting the Deposition from the Cross, executed from 1525 to 1528.
On the western wall are other works by Pontormo, the Annunciation and the three Evangelists in the dome's pendentives. St. Mark is a work by Agnolo Bronzino. The fresco on the vault is lost.
The tabernacle was designed by Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola. In its antependium was Pontormo's Madonna with Child, now in a private chapel in the Palazzo Capponi delle Rovinate