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Mariotto Albertinelli

( Originally Published 1909 )


THE great influence exerted by Fra Bartolommeo on his contemporaries is proved by the number of excellent masters who adopted his manner and worked in his style. Chief among these was Mariotto Albertinelli, or, as his family was originally called, Bertinelli, He was born in Florence on the 13th of October, 1474, and, after practising his father's trade of gold-beater for several years, was apprenticed to Cosimo Rosselli, and learnt painting from this master and his more distinguished assistant, Piero di Cosimo. In their work-shop Mariotto first met Baccio della Porta, and formed that friendship which lasted to the end of his life. Albertinelli was, writes Vasari, another Fra Bartolommeo. So entirely did he sink his own artistic individuality in that of his friend, that it is often difficult to distinguish between the work of the two artists. But, as we have already seen, Mariottos character and habits were strangely unlike those of the Dominican friar. Baccio was gentle and serious, fond of study and music, and devoted to Fra Girolamo and his teaching. Mariotto was a gay, reckless prodigal who railed at priests and friars, took delight in wild pranks and noisy company, and is justly described by Vasari as a 'persona inquietissima." From the first he proclaimed himself a partisan of the Medici, and received his earliest commissions from Madonna Alfonsina Orsini, the wife of Piero de' Medici. He painted this lady's portrait and executed several pictures for her, which were sent to Rome and afterwards became the property of Caesar Borgia. An altar-piece of the Annunciation, in the Duomo of Volterra, and a lovely little triptych of the Virgin between St. Katherine and St. Barbara, in the Poldi-Pezzoli Museum at Milan, are the earliest of his works now in existence. This last bears the date of 1500, and was, until lately, ascribed to Fra Bartolommeo, whose early panels in the Uffizi it resembles closely.

When Baccio took the vows of the Dominican Order, he begged Albertinelli to finish the fresco of the Last Judgment, which he had begun in the Campo Santo of S. Maria Nuova, since it distressed him to break his contract with his employer, Gerozzo Dini. Mariotto consented, and introduced the portraits of Gerozzo and of the master of the hospital among the blessed, and of himself and his scholar Giuliano Bugiardini among the dead who rise from their tombs at the trumpet-sound. The skill with which he performed his task added greatly to his reputation, and he opened a shop on his own account in the Via Gualfonda. Here, in 1503, he painted his finest work, the Visitation. This famous picture was ordered by a congregation of priests for a church dedicated to St. Martin and St. Elizabeth, where it remained until it was removed to the Uffizi. The treatment of the subject follows that of Giotto's in the Arena Chapel, but the traditional types are cleverly adapted to the style of the painter's own day. The porch of Elizabeth's house is transformed into a Renaissance portico with elegant pilasters adorned with arabesques, and only the two figures essential to the story are retained. Both the easy folds of the drapery and the glowing colours of Mary's deep blue mantle and of Elizabeth's green robe and orange cloak, recall Fra Bartolommeo's work. The group is arranged with masterly skill, the forms of the meeting women are framed in by the archway, and the eager action of the aged Saint, as she bends forward to greet the Mother of her Lord, with an expression of tender sympathy on her face, is finely rendered. But in those golden days, even second-rate artists knew instinctively how to design great pictures, and occasionally attained to the highest excellence. The predella of the picture, consisting of three small subjects, the Annunciation, Nativity, and Presentation is in the Uffizi, as well as the original drawing of the Visitation.

A round of the Madonna adoring the Christ, which is more in Lorenzo di Credi's style, was painted about the same time, while a large altar-piece of the Virgin between St. Jerome and St. Zenobius, in the Louvre, was finished in 1506, for a chapel in the Trinità. In the same year, Albertinelli was employed by the monks of the Certosa in Val d'Ema, three miles outside the Porta Romana, to paint a fresco of the Crucifixion in their Chapter-house. This fine work is executed in Fra Bartolommeo's manner, but the figures of the Magdalen and St. John and the angels hovering in the air to receive the blood that drops from the sacred wounds, are, distinctly Peruginesque in feeling. Mariotto's natural dislike of monks and friars, however, had been only increased by the loss of his friend, and the poor Carthusians found him and his assistants very troublesome guests. They played tricks on the brothers and stole their meagre allowance of daily food, until, in their anxiety to be rid of these tormentors, the monks agreed to double their rations, if they would finish the work as speedily as possible, to which Mariotto and his comrades gladly agreed, amidst shouts of noisy merriment.

About this time, Albertinelli, whose love for his friend had never changed, agreed to take charge of Fra Bartolommeo's brother Piero, a feeble and vicious youth, who was a source of constant trouble and anxiety to his family. But instead of learning painting, Piero was always escaping from Albertinelli's house and getting into mischief, and at length, in 1512, he was placed in the hospital of the Innocents, through the intervention of Fra Bartolommeo's friend, Prior Pagnini.

In 1509, Mariotto entered into partnership with Fra Bartolommeo, and worked as his chief assistant in the convent bottega during the next three years. As a rule, the Friar seems to have designed all the pictures which his friend painted during this period. Three of the best, a Madonna and Saints, Holy Trinity, and Annunciation, are in the Academy of Florence. All three bear the dates of 151o, and are executed in Fra Bartolommeo's style, but are not without a certain vigour and individuality of their own. A Coronation of the Virgin, with two graceful cherubs, at Stuttgart, and two Virgin-Saints at Siena, also belong to this period. After the dissolution of the partnership between him and Fra Bartolommeo, Mariotto, in his first paroxysm of rage and disgust, vowed that he would never touch a brush again. For a little while he kept his resolution, married a wife named Antonia, whose father was the owner of a wine-shop, and himself opened a tavern near the Porta San Gallo. Here, at least, in this " bellissima osteria," Mariotto declared, he would lead a gay and joyous life, free from the cares of perspective and anatomy, and would hear his customers praising his good wine instead of blaming his bad drawing. But before many months were over, he grew tired of his new trade, and went back to his old calling.

In March, 1513, he painted a coat of arms adorned with figures of Faith, Hope and Charity, over the doors of the Medici Palace, in honour of Leo the Tenth's accession to the Papacy. A year later after Fra Bartolommeo's visit to Rome, he received an invitation to paint an altar-piece in the Dominican Convent of La Quercia at Viterbo, and went on to Rome, where Fra Mariano employed him to paint a Marriage of St. Katherine, in the Church of S. Silvestro. He returned to finish his work at La Quercia, but fell ill, and was brought back in a litter to Florence. Fra Bartolommeo hastened to his old friend's bedside as soon as he heard of his illness, and remained with him until he died, on the 5th of November, 1515. Albertinelli was buried in S. Piero Maggiore, and left one son, Biagio, who died young. His best scholar was Giuliano Bugiardini, an artist (1475-1554) who began life in Ghirlandajo's studio, but early attached himself to Albertinelli, and executed several pictures from Fra Bartolommeo's designs. The Rape of Dinah, in the Vienna Gallery, is said by Vasari to have been painted from a cartoon by the Friar, but was only finished in 1531, fourteen years after Fra Bartolommeo's death. One of this master's most attractive works is a picture of the youthful Baptist drawing water from a stream in the desert, with a group of shepherds in the background, which still hangs over a side-altar of S. Maria delle Grazie at Milan. He also copied some of Perugino's pictures, and, like most of his contemporaries, ultimately fell under the spell of Michelangelo, whom he had known in Ghirlandajo's workshop, and who is said to have designed his altar-piece of the Marriage of St Katherine in Santa Maria Novella. During the siege of Florence, in 1529, he took shelter at Bologna, where he painted several of his best works, and, after the restoration of peace, returned to his native city and became one of Michelangelo's constant companions. Bugiardini died in 1554, and was buried in Santa Maria Novella.

Another pupil of Ghirlandajo, who also imitated Fra Bartolommeo, was Francesco Granacci (1477-1543). His Assumption, in the Academy of Florence, and Madonna of the Girdle, in the Uffizi, are executed in the Friar's style, while his earlier works, at Berlin, betray the influence of Michelangelo, whom he accompanied to Rome, and of whose property in Florence: he took charge, when Buonarroti fled to Venice. In 1504, he was one of the artists who met to decide on the site of Michelangelo's David, and he remained the great man's intimate friend to the end of his life. Like Piero di Cosimo, Granacci was early employed by the Medici to direct their Carnival pageants and festivities, and erected a splendid triumphal arch, adorned with allegorical paintings and chiaroscuro figures, on the occasion of Pope Leo the Tenth's visit to Florence in 1515. In 1523, he assisted Andrea del Sarto and his companions in the decoration of Margherita Borgherini's bridal chamber, and the panels on the story of Joseph which he painted on that occasion are preserved in the Uffizi, while another set of small subjects on the life of S. Apollonia and other saints are divided between the Munich Gallery and the Academy of Florence.

Granacci's best pupil was Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, who was so sickly a child at his birth, that his parents despaired of rearing him, and believed his recovery was solely due to the wax candles and votive gifts which they offered at the shrine of the Madonna delle Carcere in Prato, where the boy was brought up. He was only eleven when his father died, but made rapid progress under Granacci's teaching, and gave promise of an excellence to which he never attained. His early works, three panels of Angels, in the Academy of Florence, and a Nativity, at St. Petersburg, passed under Granacci's name until quite lately, while a Coronation, of 1504, in the Louvre, closely resembles Fra Bartolommeo's style and colouring, and both the Procession to Calvary, in the National Gallery, and the Marriage of St. Katherine, at La Quiete, bear marks of Leonardo's influence.

Among the best of his later works are the Miracles of St. Zenobius, in the Uffizi, and the graceful predella in the oratory of the Bigallo, containing a representation of the brothers of the Misericordia bearing a dead man to the grave, as well as several admirable portraits, which were formerly ascribed to Leonardo or Raphael Ridolfo became an intimate friend of the last-named master, whom he met in Fra Bartolommeo's workshop, and who is said to have employed him to paint the blue drapery in his picture of " La Belle Jardiniére." When Raphael went to Rome, he tried to induce his friend to accompany him, but Ridolfo declared that he loved his native city too well, and could not live out of sight of the Duomo. He married young, and his wife Contessina bore him no less than fifteen children, several of whom became merchants and settled in Ferrara, or went to France. This master was constantly employed by the Medici, to arrange the wedding festivities and funeral pro-cessions which had become. so important a part of the artist's calling in these degenerate times. The decorations of the Pope's residence near S. Maria Novella and of the Medici Palace were entrusted to him at the visit of Leo X., and he lived to erect a triumphal arch for the , entry of the Emperor Charles V., in 1336, and to superintend the rejoicings at the wedding of Duke Cosimo L In these latter years he became court-painter and architect to the ducal house, and was honoured with the title of Master of the Cathedral. An immense number of assistants were always employed in his shop, and, in spite of his large family, he was one of the wealthiest and most prosperous artists of the day. Ridolfo lived to be seventy-eight, and although a great sufferer from gout and other infirmities, retained his activity and cheerfulness to the last. Once, when the Duke was absent from home, he restored a painting in the palace in a single day, and told his friends he could go to bed happy, for he had given back youth to an old man, raised a dead being to life, and transformed a work of ugliness into a thing of beauty.



Florence.—Accademia: 63. Trinity. 167. Madonna and Child with Saints. 169. Annunciation.

" Pitti: 365. Holy Family.

" Uffizi 1259. Visitation and Predella.

" Corsivi Gallery : 160. Holy Family.

Certosa di Val d'Ema: Fresco—Crucifixion.

Bergamo.—Lochis Gallery: 203. Crucifixion. " Morelli Collection : 32. St. John and the Magdalene.

Milan.—Paldi-Pezzoli Museum: Triptych.

Pisa.—S. Catarina.. Madonna and Child with Saints.

Rome.—Borghese Villa: 310. Madonna and Child with St. John.

Siena.—Gallery : 115. St. Katherine. 116. Magdalene.

Venice.—Seminario: 18. Madonna. Volterra.—Duomo: Annunciation.

Geneva.—Museum: Annunciation.

The Hague.—Gallery: 306. Holy Family.

Munich.—Pinacothek: 1057. Annunciation.

Paris.—Louvre: 1114. Madonna and Child with Saints.

St. Petersburg. —Ermitage : Nativity.

Stuttgart.—241-246. Coronation and Cherubs.


Florence.—Pitti: 140. Portrait of Lady.

"UffIzi: 213. Madonna and Child. 451. Madonna and Child with St. John.

Florence.—S. Maria Novella : Martyrdom of St. Katherine.

Bologna.-Gallery: St. John Baptist. Madonna and Child with Saints. Madonna and Child.

Milan.—S. Maria delle Grazie : St. John Baptist.

Modena.—Gallery: 534. Madonna and Child with St. John.

Rome.—Borghese Villa: 443. Madonna and Child with St. John. Colonna Gallery : 136. Madonna and Child. Corsini Gallery: 580. Madonna and Child. Turin.—Gallery: 106. Madonna and Child with St. John. Museo Civico: Madonna and Child with St. John.

Berlin.—Gallery: 142, 149. Story of Tobias. 263. Madonna and Child with Saints.

Vienna. —Gallery : 36. Rape of Dinah. Lichtenstein Gallery: 264. Madonna and Child with St. John.


Florence.—Accademia: 68. Assumption. 285-290. Legend of S. Apollonia.

" Pitti: 345. Holy Family.

" Uffizi : 1249.1282. Story of Joseph. 1280. Madonna della Cintola.

Rome.—Borgkese Villa: 371. Maddalena Strozzi as St. Katherine.

" Corsini Gallery: 573. Hebe.

Berlin.—Gallery: 88. Madonna and Child with Saints. 97. Madonna and Child with Saints.

Munich.—Pinacotkek: 1061-1064. Saints; 229. Trinity. 1065. Holy Family.

Oxford—Christ Church: St. Francis. University Galleries : 23. St. Anthony and Angel.

" Panskanger: Portrait of Lady.

" Warwick Castle: Assumption.


Florence.—ACcademia: 83, 87. Angels.

" Pitti : 207. Portrait of a Goldsmith. 224. Portrait of Lady.

Florence.—Uffizi: 1275, 1277. Miracles of S. Zanobi. pp

Palazzo Vecchio: Frescoes.

" Bigallo: Predella.

" Corsini Gallery. 129. Portrait.

" Palazzo Torrigiani : Portraits.

" La Quiete: Marriage of St. Katherine, St. Se-bastian.

Pistoia.—St. Pieta: Madonna and Child with Saints.

Pratoa.—Duomo: Madonna della Cintola.

Berlin.—Gallery: 91. Nativity.

Buda Pesth.—Gallery.—68. Nativity.

London.—National Gallery: 1143. Procession to Calvary.

Paris.—Louvre: 1324. Coronation.

St. Petersburg:—Ermitage: 22. Adoration of Christ by Virgin and Saints.

Painters Of Florence:
Lorenzo Di Credi

Piero Di Cosimo

Fra Bartolommeo

Mariotto Albertinelli

Andrea Del Sarto


Michelangelo Buonarroti

Read More Articles About: Painters Of Florence

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