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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mariotto Albertinelli

The Temptation (lower right) was only the beginning.
Notice the differences as well as the similarities.
It's not so much the case with regard to our present-day contemporary era, but once we begin to consider past eras in art, very often many people can recall only two or three "big names," and from that point on they draw a blank. Mention Impressionism and you hear back Monet, Pissarro, Manet, and maybe one or two more. The Baroque era might bring to mind Caravaggio, Bernini, and Rembrandt. Talk about the Ro-mantic, Neo-classical, Rococo, or Mannerist eras, and you'd be lucky to come up with even one name for each period. Even those who sup-posedly know something about art would pro-bably struggle to "name names." The Renais-sance is probably the best known of all these past art eras, but even then, once the "big three" first-name artists (Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raph-ael) are listed, adding more names becomes difficult for many. That's unfortunate because there are at least a dozen "second tier" artists from that era--Botticelli, Pollaiolo, Perugino, Ti-tian, and many others--who should also come instantly to mind (and that's only the Italians). Moreover, if these can't be easily recalled, what chance do the many lesser-knowns (but yet outstanding) Renaissance artists have in being remembered. Take Mariotto Albertinelli, for instances.

Crucifixion, 1508, Galluzzo Certosa, Florence, Mariotto Albertinelli
As you can see in his paintings (above), Albertinelli had talent backed up by a highly trained hand and eye. And while he may not fall into the same class as the "second tier" artists I mentioned earlier, he certainly rubbed shoulders with them and competed with them for commissions. Moreover he was seldom short of work. The art business in Italy was booming. Albertinelli's The Circumcision (seen down below) from 1503, was a bit unusual as to theme. Yet we see the classic Renaissance style we would expect as to color, composition, style and technique. However, as can be seen in his The Creation, Temptation, and Fall (top), dating from 1513. Albertinelli was known for "pushing the envelope" somewhat in his conceptualizations of some pretty standard biblical scenes. But then again, so was Michelangelo.

A professional
painting partnership.
Mariotto Albertinelli was born in 1474. He was a Florentine, the son of a gold beater. (If you're unfamiliar with that profession, they were the tradesmen who manufactured gold-leaf, so popular with many artists of the time.) Young Mariotto was an only child; his mother died when he was just five years old. The young boy was, himself, trained as a gold beater until the age of twelve when he became a pupil of a "second tier" painter named Cosimo Rosselli. There he met fellow-pupil Bartolommeo di Pagholo, later to become better known as Fra Bartolomeo. Though quite different in temperament, having trained together, they were (initially at least) nearly identical in skill and style. Their names would become inextricably linked for the rest of their lives. The two apprentices formed such a close friendship that in 1494 they started a joint studio in Florence. The two could paint in such an identical manner that each blended with that of his partner.

One artist or two; and if two, which one painted which one?
Art experts hate that kind of thing. They like their attributions to be cut and dried. Albertinelli's Nativity and his very similar Holy Family (above) are a case in point. For many years, one or both were attributed to Fra Bartolomeo. More recent studies have changed that. It's now considered that both were painted by Albertinelli using Bartolomeo's cartoons (preliminary drawings). As if that weren't bad enough, some years later, Albertinelli seems to have made an outright copy of (or at least borrowed heavily from) Bartolomeo's 1497 Annunciation (below-bottom) insofar as the central figures are concerned, in rendering his 1510 Annunciation to Mary (below-top).

Albertinelli appears to have copied his partner's earlier work...
unless the attributions are turned around.

The Visitation, 1503,
Mariotto Albertinelli
Apparently, around 1500, Bartolommeo renounc-ed painting for a few years as a result of Savonarola's morality campaign. (Savonarola was a fire and brimstone street-preacher in Florence about this time.) Bartolomeo joined the Dominican order as Fra Bartolomeo. Albertinelli then worked as an independent painter. He received various commissions including one in 1503 for the high altarpiece for the Chapel of Congregazione di San Martino (later to be named the Church of Santa Elisabetta) in Florence. (The altarpiece is now in the Uffizi). The central panel depicts The Visit-ation (right), while the predella contains The Circumcision (below), The Adoration of the Child (bottom), and The Annunciation (above-top). Albertinelli's paintings bear the imprint of Per-ugino's sense of volume, space, and perspective, Fra Bartolomeo's coloring, the landscape por-trayal of Flemish masters such as Hans Memling, and Leonardo's Sfumato technique.

The Circumcision, 1503, Mariotto Albertinelli
In 1509 Albertinelli and Fra Bartolommeo, who had by then resumed painting, once more entered into a partnership. This time their partnership was on an equal footing, each entitled to half the profit from their shared commissions. The partnership was dissolved in January 1513. According to Vasari, Albertinelli led a rather "playboy" lifestyle (despite being married), and was fond of good living and bad women. Not surprisingly, he experienced financial problems, becoming unable to repay his loans. One of his creditors included Raphael. Albertinelli’s wife Antonia, whom he had marred in 1506, repaid all her husband's debts following his death in 1515.

Madonna and Child with Saints, Mariotto Albertinelli


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