DEATH: 1889 ROMAKO
BIRTH: 1495 ROSSO
Born on 08 March 1889: Anton
Romako, Austrian painter born on 20 October 1832.
Anton Romako, who had long lived in Rome painting portraits and scenes of rural life in the Campagna, came home to Vienna, but his technique of exaggerating details met with general perplexity.
Tegetthoff at the Naval Battle of Lissa (1879, 110x82cm) _ This picture by Romako is one of the most unusual historical paintings of the 19th century. It deals with the sea battle of Lissa in 1866, where the Austrian Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff conquered the Italians. Romako chose not to present the scene in the conventional manner: the dramatic action is set on the bridge of the Austrian flagship, and the crew is shown rapt with anticipation of the ramming about to take place. The effect is heightened by the flying splinters of a shell exploding left above the wheel, while the whole ship is wrapped in billowing clouds of steam and smoke. Contemporary critics found Romako's concentration on the purely psychological aspect of the participants' reactions unacceptable; and Tegetthoff's very human but deplorably unheroic deportment disturbed them too. But it was precisely Tegetthoff the man, worried about the outcome of his tactics, that Romako was interested in, and only thus could he do justice to the ingenious deed.
Born on 08 March 1495: Giovanni
Battista di Jacopo Rosso
Fiorentino, Italian painter and decorator
who died on 14 November 1540.
Rosso Fiorentino, real name Giovanni Battista DI Jacopo DI Guasparre , was an Italian painter. His early works helped define the first phase of Mannerism. A more developed Mannerist style is exhibited in his Descent from the Cross (1521, Pinacoteca Communale, Volterra, Italy); its idiosyncratic modeling and perspective, violent colors, and harsh lighting produce the disturbing effect characteristic of much 16th-century Italian art. After about 1524, however, Rosso's figures became more solid and sculptural—as in the Dead Christ with Angels (1525-26, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). From 1530 to his death Rosso worked on the decoration of the Chateau de Fontainebleau in France, where, with the Bolognese painter Francesco Primaticcio, he introduced a more subdued Mannerist style in keeping with courtly French taste.
Assumption of the Virgin (1517, 385x395cm) _ Given the notoriety of the works of Michelangelo and Raphael recently completed in Rome, it is Rosso Fiorentino's credit that he was an artist of extreme individuality and independence. The works of these artists, along with those of Leonardo, must have appeared so perfect on their own terms that it was imperative to either break with them or totally succumb to them. In this early painting, which has suffered from weathering, Rosso already expresses his own unconventional interpretations.
Madonna and Child with Putti (1517, 111x75cm) _ This painting is an example of the early Florentine Mannerism. Due to a change in the color of the varnish, the colors of the painting changed significantly.
Madonna Enthroned with Four Saints (1518, 172x141cm) _ A neurotic, even deformed stylization that at times verges on the grotesque is the most immediate characteristic of Rosso Fiorentino's paintings, and can be glimpsed in this painting (the Ognissanti Altarpiece), executed for the Hospital of S. Maria Nuova in Florence. Most notably, the restlessness of the whole work contradicts a High Renaissance ideal: that of serene majesty. This accentuates the expressive dynamism of his compositions, whose colors and tones seem burnt or lividly overstated. The almost infernal aspect of some of his characters has given rise to a number of sometimes wild hypotheses about the painter's far-from-happy psychology. (He committed suicide.) The altarpiece portrays the Virgin and Child between Saint John the Baptist, Saint Anthony Abbot, Saint Stephen and Saint Jerome. The faces of saints, darkened by heavy shading, are utterly devoid of that serenity which characterizes the figures in traditional altarpieces. In the figure of Saint Jerome, the sunken abdomen, the prominent sternum, ribs and collarbone of the chest area, and the skeletal thinness of the neck, arms and fingers, reveal unquestionable links with the studies of decomposing or flayed bodies that began to interest a great number of Tuscan artists from the 15th century.
Madonna Enthroned between Two Saints (1521, 169x133cm) _ The painting was executed for the parish church of Villamagna near Volterra. Compared to the complexity of the contemporary Deposition the compositional solution of this painting, signed and dated in the lower left corner, at the foot of Saint John the Baptist, is regulated by a simpler scheme and a greater symmetry, an evident recall to classical tradition. Andrea del Sarto's Madonna of the Harpies is one of the most probable iconographical references for Rosso's painting as far as the general structure is concerned, and in the pose of the Virgin, who, firmly anchored to a supporting base, extends her knee forward and places her right arm around the Child clutching at her side. The figure of Saint Bartholomew with the book, who in Rosso's altarpiece looks towards the observer, recalls the Saint John the Baptist portrayed by Andrea del Sarto to the left of the Virgin and Child.
Madonna Enthroned and Ten Saints (1522, 350x259cm) _ On the commission of Ranieri, the son of Carlo Dei, the artist executed this painting for the church of Santo Spirito in Florence. Later it was transferred to Palazzo Pitti. Following the restlessness of his youthful period, this painting represents a moment of moderation, in which the references to the examples of Fra Bartolommeo and Andrea del Sarto appear more evident. The painting was much admired by Vasari, especially for the "vividness of the colors", which, with the greater regularity of the composition and the poses of the single figures, reveal a more original quality and come closer to the eccentric use of color in the previous works, especially in the Saint Catherine kneeling in the foreground.
Marriage of the Virgin (1523, 325x250cm) _ This painting was executed on the commission of Carlo Ginori for the chapel dedicated to Mary and Joseph in the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. The name of the artist, "Rubeus Florentino", is included among the letters of the first line of the second paragraph of the text which the saint marks with her finger, and also clearly written, together with the date of execution, on the step beneath the figure of the priest. Like the Dei ALtarpiece, this painting is another example of moderation compared to the formal boldness of the works belonging to the earlt Florentine period and the sojourn in Volterra. The composition takes up some figurative ideas from the frescoes of Pontormo and Franciabigio in the Chiostrino dei Voti in Santissima Annunziata. _ detail 1 This detail shows the kneeling figure on the left side of the painting. _ Detail 2 This detail shows the kneeling figure of Saint Apollonia on the right side of the painting. As far as traditional representations of this theme are concerned, quite unusual is the presence among the onlookers in the foreground of Saint Apollonia who certainly could not have witnessed the event.
Musician Angel (1520, 47x39cm) _ This little painting belonging to the period of maturity of the artist, who was a pupil of Andrea del Sarto, together with Pontormo. In 1605 the picture was collocated in the Tribune beside the more precious masterworks Medici family had collected. Recent studies revealed the panel to be a fragment of a larger painting including - such as other altarpieces by Rosso - the angel in the lower part of the scene. A sense of vitality and tenderness emanates from this little cherub playing a lute, probably dating to the beginning of the third decade of 16th century.
from the Cross (1521, 375x196cm) _ In this work the main character is
the color, and the color is devoted to one end: a violent and emotional
expressiveness which overrides everything else, and seeks only to provoke
in the spectator a thrill of horror and grief comparable with that which
shattered the men and women who helped to lift Christ from the Cross and
bury Him. The drawing is not conceived as a means of describing forms, but
as a means of stating ideas. The light is not a normal illumination nor
even a poetic evocation: the scene is lit as if by lightning, and in the
blinding flash the figures are frozen in their attitudes and even in their
thoughts, while the great limp body of the dead Christ, livid green with
reddish hair and beard, dangles perilously as his dead weight almost slips
from the grasp of the men straining on the ladders. This painting shows,
as the Pontormo Deposition does, some influence of Michelangelo's Roman
Pietà, but the Christ of the Deposition is far more closely
connected with a drawing for a Pietà which Michelangelo made in
1520, and which haunted Rosso to the end of his life. _ Detail 1
_ detail 2
Validating the theory that Rosso spent some time in Rome, presumably between
1518 and 1521, are clear references to the frescoes of the Sistine ceiling.
One of the references is the use of the gesture of Eve expelled from the
Paradise for the posture of the figure of Saint John. This red-haired young
man, who buries his hands in an expression of intense anguish, has been
interpreted as a "self-portrait denied" of Rosso, who by including this
figure in the painting is thus personally involved in the event represented.
Examples of this exist in more or less contemporary northern figurative
art, in Dürer particularly, who has been identified as one of the most probable
sources of inspiration for the painting and to whom some facial characterizations
are referable. _ Detail 3
In addition to his pictorial originality, Rosso also had considerable technical
skill as is demonstrated in this detail. By this time the Florentines were
using oil paint effectively, but their approach depended upon a thinner,
highly fluid application of the paint rather than the thick impastos used
by their Venetian contemporaries.
Deposition from the Cross (1528, 270x201cm) _ This painting was commissioned in 1527 by the Confraternity of Santa Croce, and was probably finished before 1 July 1528. Compared with the preceding Deposition in Volterra, to which the painting refers in the figure of the deposer on the left descending one of the three ladders resting against the cross, and in the curly-haired young Saint John, portrayed in the background burying his face in his hands, as in the Volterra altarpiece, the Deposition of San Sepolcro places a greater emphasis on the figure of Christ, who has been taken down from the cross and is now lying in the Virgin's lap in the foreground. A reference to the molded characterization of Michelangelo's anatomies is visible in the bodies of Rosso's painting; observe, for example, the youth standing to the right of the Virgin bending slightly forward in the act of holding up Christ's back. The light which covers the foreground of the composition and contrasts with the dark background is brightest in the clothing of this figure, highlighting its refined golden-yellow floral motif, and produces the extraordinary changing color effects of the dress of the bystander seated in the foreground to the left of Mary Magdalene. More than for the reelaboration of elements associated with the art of Dürer and the great masters of classicism, the San Sepolcro Deposition is distinguished by a number of iconographical peculiarities. The most striking is the complete nudity of the body of Jesus, a clear break with tradition, emphasis being given to the ample volume of its swollen ribcage. Transferring to the Virgin, the iconography which from the 14th century in Italy was traditionally used to represent Mary Magdalene, Ross portrays the mother of Christ with her arms splayed and held up, as if she herself was reliving the moment of crucifixion; the expression of the crucified Jesus seems in fact to be impressed upon the face of Mary, who is now prostrate with grief. Behind her, the horrible animal-like figure directing his squint-eyed gaze away from the scene probably takes up the theme of the bodyguard, the symbol of the treachery and wickedness that determined the killing of Christ, and also present in the Volterra Deposition. Detail Transferring to the Virgin, the iconography which from the 14th century in Italy was traditionally used to represent Mary Magdalene, Ross portrays the mother of Christ with her arms splayed and held up, as if she herself was reliving the moment of crucifixion; the expression of the crucified Jesus seems in fact to be impressed upon the face of Mary, who is now prostrate with grief. Behind her, the horrible animal-like figure directing his squint-eyed gaze away from the scene probably takes up the theme of the bodyguard, the symbol of the treachery and wickedness that determined the killing of Christ.
Pietà (1540, 125x159cm) _ Rosso addressed the theme of the dead Christ again towards the end of his artistic career when, after completing the decoration of the Gallery at Fontainebleau for François I, painted the Pietà. The painting once hung above the door of the chapel of the High Constable Anne de Montmorency in the castle of Ecouen. The painting, of all the works executed by Rosso during his stay in France (1530-40), is the only surviving example that is certainly original. The painting is a "close-up" of the body of Christ, which extends across the whole width of the composition, literally filling the pictorial space. Christ's body, having taken down from the cross, of which there is no trace in the composition, and from the maternal lap, is elegantly placed on a cushion lying on the ground. Behind the body of Jesus the Virgin opens her arms and collapses into the arms of one of the pious women. Light shines in the foreground of the composition, highlighting, compared with the dark background, the various shades of red in the clothing, which contrast with the white of the scarf surrounding the upper part of Mary's dress, and the delicate lace of Mary Magdalene's dress, in which the golden yellow of the sleeve stands out.
Dead Christ with Angels (1526, 134x104cm) _ Rosso executed this remarkable painting for Bishop Leonardo Tornabuoni, a Florentine by birth. One of the striking formal characteristics of this painting is the highly refined modeling of the bodies, which become extraordinarily soft under the effect of a warm, intense light. The artist had clearly abandoned his taste for the sharp-cornered angularities that characterize the linear structure of his Florentine and Volterran works, which are, on the other hand, recalled in the varied range of complementary colors, with their delicate changing color effects. Christ's naked body has undeniable similarities with works by Michelangelo: the Vatican Pietà and the Risen Christ from the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. What interested Rosso in this case, however, over and beyond the literal translation of Michelangelo's figurative ideas, was to exalt the beauty of the human body, which, following the example of the illustrious model, is accurately portrayed down to the very last detail. The total nakedness of Christ's body, not entirely free of a note of sexuality, forms part of this same tendency. The handsome young body, languidly and sensually slumped in a serene repose, and literally dominating the pictorial composition, retains little of the traditional iconography of the dead Christ, being closer to the pagan representation of the figure of Adonis. Indeed, the signs of Christ's martyrdom, which dramatically concluded the earthly existence of God's son, are barely hinted at in the painting: the small wound in his side touched by the hand of an angel, the thin crown of thorns surrounding the head of the Redeemer, and the rod with the sponge soaked in vinegar and the nails, depicted along the lower edge of the painting.
Risen Christ (1530, 348x258cm) _ This painting for the Cathedral of the provincial Umbrian town of Città di Castello depicts the risen Christ with saints below. Rosso has moved toward a more mechanistic composition on a monumental scale. Created in an irregular octagonal format, the picture retains a strong vertical emphasis. Separate figures and incidents, along with the idiosyncratic treatment of the parts, overwhelm the impact of the composition as a whole.
Moses Defending the Daughters of Jethro (1524, 160x117cm) _ Among Rosso's paintings concerned with the representation of themes belonging to the religious iconographical tradition, this painting is a very special case, not least due to the rarity of the subject. The title of the painting refers to an episode of Moses's youth narrated in the book of Exodus (II, 16-22). The seven daughters of Jethro, priest of the land of Midian, while drawing water from a well and filling troughs to water their father's flock, are troubled by a group of Midianite shepherds who take advantage of the labours of the young women to water their own herds. Moses, sitting near the well, witnesses the scene; driving the Midianites away with threats he intervenes physically in defense of Jethro's daughters who thanks to his help can finally water their flocks. In recognition of the meritorious action performed by the young Moses, Jethro gives him the hand of one of his daughters, Zipporah. There are unequivocal references in the painting to the two cartoons made by Michelangelo and Leonardo for the decoration of the Great Council Hall in Palazzo della Signoria. Rosso's canvas reproposes the extremely articulated compositional structure of Michelangelo's Battle of Cascina, displaying a broad range of nude figure poses which reflect the artist's predilection for counterpoise. The emphasizing of gestures and clothing, and the impassioned savagery of the actions and expressions, on the other hand, are associated with Leonardo's Battle of Anghiari. _ Detail The detail shows Zipporah, one of the daughters of Jethro. This painting is one of the principal works of the maturity of the painter. The obvious inspiration from Michelangelo is surpassed by the intense compression of the various plastic planes which become shining planes of color In their brilliant chromatic polish and in the tangle of the masses in violent "contrapposto" there is an unreal smoothness which tends towards a visionary effect.