Rosso Fiorentino

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Rosso Fiorentino

Italian painter and decorator, (also called IL ROSSO, original name Giovanni Battista di Jacopo Rosso) an exponent of the

expressive style that is often called early, or Florentine, Mannerism, and one of the founders of the Fontainebleau school.

Vasari says that he 'would not bind himself to any master' (a story that fits in with his individuality of temperament), but in his

youth he learned most from Andrea del Sarto, and together with Andrea's pupil Pontormo (Rosso's friend and close contemporary)

he was one of the leading figures in the early development of Mannerism. The earliest works of Rosso and Pontormo combined

influences from Michelangelo and from northern Gothic engravings in a novel style, which departed from the tenets of High

Renaissance art and was characterized by its highly charged emotionalism. Rosso's work was highly sophisticated and varied in

mood, ranging from the Assumption (1517; fresco at SS. Annunziata, Florence) to the refined elegance of the Marriage of the Virgin

(S. Lorenzo, Florence, 1523), to the violent energy of Moses and the Daughters of Jethro (Uffizi, Florence, c.1523) and to the

disquieting intensity of the Deposítion (Galleria Pittorica, Volterra, 1521).

At the end of 1523 Rosso moved to Rome, where his exposure to Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling, the late art of Raphael, and the

work of Parmigianino resulted in a radical realignment of his style. His Dead Christ with Angels (c. 1526) exemplifies this new style

with its feeling for rarefied beauty and subdued emotion. Fleeing from the sack of the city in 1527, he worked briefly in several

central Italian towns. In 1530, on the invitation of Francis I, he went to France (by way of Venice) and remained in the royal service

there until his death. Vasari, whose biography of Rosso also includes an entertaining story about his pet baboon, says that he

killed himself in remorse after falsely accusing a friend of stealing money from him, but this may well be apocryphal.

Rosso's principal surviving work is the decoration of the Galerie François I at the palace of Fontainebleau (c. 1534-37), where, in collaboration with Francesco Primaticcio,

he developed an ornamental style whose influence was felt throughout northern Europe. His numerous designs for engravings also exercised a wide influence on the

decorative arts both in Italy and in northern Europe.
On "Deposition from the Cross," 1528

The 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 St John,

portrayed in the background burying his face in his hands, as in the Volterra altarpiece, the Deposition of Sansepolcro 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 moulded 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 colour 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 Sansepolcro 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

rib-cage. 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.

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