LINK TO BIB
Descent from the Cross. 1521. Volterra, Cathedral.

IL ROSSO FIORENTINO (1494-1540)
PAINTER OF FLORENCE

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists





MEN OF ACCOUNT who apply themselves to the arts and pursue them with all their powers are sometimes exalted and honored beyond measure, at a moment when it was least expected, before the eyes of all the world, as may be seen clearly from the labors that Il Rosso, a painter of Florence, devoted to the art of painting; for if these were not acknowledged in Rome and Florence by those who could reward them, yet in France he found one to recompense him for them, and that in such sort, that his glory might have sufficed to quench the thirst of the most overweening ambition that could possess the heart of any craftsman, be he who he may. Nor could he have obtained in this life greater dignities, honour, or rank, seeing that he was regarded with favor and much esteemed beyond any other man of his profession by a King so great as is the King of France. And, indeed, his merits were such, that, if Fortune had secured less for him, she would have done him a very great wrong, for the reason that Rosso, in addition to his painting, was endowed with a most beautiful presence; his manner of speech was gracious and grave; he was an excellent musician, and had a fine knowledge of philosophy; and what was of greater import than all his other splendid qualities was this, that he always showed the invention of a poet in the grouping of his figures, besides being bold and well-grounded in draughtsmanship, graceful in manner, sublime in the highest flights of imagination, and a master of beautiful composition of scenes. In architecture he showed an extraordinary excellence; and he was always, however poor in circumstances, rich in the grandeur of his spirit. For this reason, whosoever shall follow in the labors of painting the walk pursued by Rosso, must be celebrated without ceasing, as are that master's works, which have no equals in boldness and are executed without effort and strain, since he kept them free of that dry and painful elaboration to which so many subject themselves in order to veil the worthlessness of their works with the cloak of importance.

In his youth, Rosso drew from the cartoon of Michelagnolo, and would study art with but few masters, having a certain opinion of his own that conflicted with their manners; as may be seen from a shrine executed in fresco for Piero Bartoli at Marignolle, without the Porta a S. Piero Gattolini in Florence, containing a Dead Christ, wherein he began to show how great was his desire for a manner bold and grand, graceful and marvellous beyond that of all others. While still a beardless boy, at the time when Lorenzo Pucci was made a Cardinal by Pope Leo, he executed over the door of S. Sebastiano de' Servi the arms of the Pucci, with two figures, which made the craftsmen of that day marvel, for no one expected for him such a result as he achieved. Wherefore he so grew in courage, that, after having painted a picture with a half-length figure of Our Lady and a head of S. John the Evangelist for Maestro Jacopo, a Servite friar, who was something of a poet, at his persuasion he painted the Assumption of the Madonna in the cloister of the Servites, beside the scene of the Visitation, which was executed by Jacopo da Pontormo. In this he made a Heaven full of angels, all in the form of little naked children dancing in a circle round the Madonna, foreshortened with a most beautiful flow of outlines and with great grace of manner, as they wheel through the sky: insomuch that, if the coloring had been executed by him with that mature mastery of art which he afterwards came to achieve, he would have surpassed the other scenes by a great measure, even as he actually did equal them in grandeur and excellence of design. He made the Apostles much burdened with draperies, and, indeed, overloaded with their abundance; but the attitudes and some of the heads are more than beautiful.

The Director of the Hospital of S. Maria Nuova commissioned him to paint a panel: but when he saw it sketched, having little knowledge of that art, the Saints appeared to him like devils; for it was Rosso's custom in his oil-sketches to give a sort of savage and desperate air to the faces, after which, in finishing them, he would sweeten the expressions and bring them to a proper form. At this the patron fled from his house and would not have the picture, saying that the painter had cheated him.

In like manner, over another door that leads into the cloister of the Convent of the Servites, Rosso painted the escutcheon of Pope Leo, with two children; but it is now ruined. And in the houses of citizens may be seen several of his pictures and many portraits. For the visit of Pope Leo to Florence he executed a very beautiful arch on the Canto de' Bischeri. Afterwards he painted a most beautiful picture of the Dead Christ for Signor di Piombino, and also decorated a little chapel for him. At Volterra, likewise, he painted a most lovely Deposition from the Cross.

Having therefore grown in credit and fame, he executed for S. Spirito, in Florence, the panel picture of the Dei family, which they had formerly entrusted to Raffaello da Urbino, who abandoned it because of the cares of the work that he had undertaken in Rome. This picture Rosso painted with marvellous grace, draughtsmanship, and vivacity of coloring. Let no one imagine that any work can display greater force or show more beautifully from a distance than this one, which, on account of the boldness of the figures and the extravagance of the attitudes, no longer employed by any of the other painters, was held to be an extraordinary work. And although it did not bring him much credit at that time, the world has since come little by little to recognize its excellence and has given it abundant praise; for with regard to the blending of color it would be impossible to excel it, seeing that the lights which are in the brightest parts unite with the lower lights little by little as they merge into the darks, with such sweetness and harmony, and with such masterly skill in the projection of the shadows, that the figures stand out from one another and bring each other into relief by means of the lights and shades. Such vigour, indeed, has this work, that it may be said to have been conceived and executed with more judgment and mastery than any that has ever been painted by any other master, however superior his judgment.

For S. Lorenzo, at the commission of Carlo Ginori, he painted a panel picture of the Marriage of Our Lady, which is held to be a most beautiful work. And, in truth, with regard to his facility of method, there has never been anyone who has been able to surpass him in masterly skill and dexterity, or even to approach within any distance of him; and he was so sweet in coloring, and varied his draperies with such grace, and took such delight in his art, that he was always held to be marvellous and worthy of the highest praise. Whosoever shall observe this work must recognize that all that I have written is most true, above all as he studies the nudes, which are very well conceived, with all the requirements of anatomy. His women are full of grace, and the draperies that adorn them fanciful and bizarre. He showed, also, the sense of fitness that is necessary in the heads of the old, with their harshness of features, and in those of women and children, with expressions sweet and pleasing. He was so rich in invention, that he never had any space left over in his pictures, and he executed all his work with such facility and grace, that it was a marvel.

For Giovanni Bandini, also, he painted a picture with some very beautiful nudes, representing the scene of Moses slaying the Egyptian, wherein were things worthy of the highest praise; and this was sent, I believe, into France. And for Giovanni Cavalcanti, likewise, he executed another, which went to England, of Jacob receiving water from the women at the well; this was held to be a divine work, seeing that it contained nudes and women wrought with supreme grace. For women, indeed, he always delighted to paint transparent pieces of drapery, headdresses with intertwined tresses, and ornaments for their persons.

While Rosso was engaged on this work, he was living in the Borgo de' Tintori, the rooms of which look out on the gardens of the Friars of S. Croce; and he took much pleasure in a great ape, which had the intelligence rather of a man than of a beast. For this reason he held it very dear, and loved it like his own self; and since it had a marvellous understanding, he made use of it for many kinds of service. It happened that this beast took a fancy to one of his assistants, by name Battistino, who was a young man of great beauty; and from the signs that his Battistino made to him he understood all that he wished to say. Now against the wall of the rooms at the back, which looked out upon the garden of the friars, was a pergola belonging to the Guardian, loaded with great Sancolombane grapes; and the young men used to let the ape down with a rope to the pergola, which was some distance from their window, and pull the beast up again with his hands full of grapes. The Guardian, finding his pergola stripped, but not knowing the culprit, suspected that it must be mice, and lay in hiding; and seeing Rosso's ape descending, he flew into a rage, seized a long pole, and rushed at him with hands uplifted in order to beat him. The ape, seeing that whether he went up or stayed where he was, the Guardian could reach him, began to spring about and destroy the pergola, and then, making as though to throw himself on the friar's back, seized with both his hands the outermost crossbeams which enclosed the pergola. Meanwhile the friar made play with his pole, and the ape, in his terror, shook the pergola to such purpose, and with such force, that he tore the stakes and rods out of their places, so that both pergola and ape fell headlong on the back of the friar, who shrieked for mercy. The rope was pulled up by Battistino and the others, who brought the ape back into the room safe and sound. Thereupon the Guardian, drawing off and planting himself on a terrace that he had there, said things not to be found in the Mass; and full of anger and resentment he went to the Council of Eight, a tribunal much feared in Florence. There he laid his complaint; and, Rosso having been summoned, the ape was condemned in jest to carry a weight fastened to his tail, to prevent him from jumping on pergole, as he did before. And so Rosso made a wooden cylinder swinging on a chain, and kept it on the ape, in such a way that he could go about the house but no longer jump about over other people's property. The ape, seeing himself condemned to such a punishment, seemed to guess that the friar was responsible. Every day, therefore, he exercised himself in hopping step by step with his legs, holding the weight with his hands; and thus, resting often, he succeeded in his design. For, being one day loose about the house, he hopped step by step from roof to roof, during the hour when the Guardian was away chanting Vespers, and came to the roof over his chamber. There, letting go the weight, he kept up for half an hour such a lovely dance, that not a single tile of any kind remained unbroken. Then he went back home; and within three days, when rain came, were heard the Guardian's lamentations.

Rosso, having finished his works, took the road to Rome with Battistino and the ape; in which city his works were sought for with extraordinary eagerness, great expectations having been awakened about them by the sight of some drawings executed by him, which were held to be marvellous, for Rosso drew divinely well and with the highest finish. There, in the Pace, over the pictures of Raffaello, he executed a work which is the worst that he ever painted in all his days. Nor can I imagine how this came to pass, save from a reason which has been seen not only in his case, but also in that of many others, and which appears to be an extraordinary thing, and one of the secrets of nature; and it is this, that he who changes his country or place of habitation seems to change his nature, talents, character, and personal habits, insomuch that sometimes he seems to be not the same man but another, and all dazed and stupefied. This may have happened to Rosso in the air of Rome, and on account of the stupendous works of architecture and sculpture that he saw there, and the paintings and statues of Michelagnolo, which may have thrown him off his balance; which works also drove Fra Bartolommeo di San Marco and Andrea del Sarto to flight, and prevented them from executing anything in Rome. Certain it is, be the cause what it may, that Rosso never did worse; and, what is more, this work has to bear comparison with those of Raffaello da Urbino.

At this time he painted for Bishop Tornabuoni, who was his friend, a picture of a Dead Christ supported by two angels, which was a most beautiful piece of work, and is now in the possession of the heirs of Monsignor della Casa. For Baviera he made drawings of all the Gods, for copper-plates, which were afterwards engraved by Jacopo Caraglio; one of them being Saturn changing himself into a horse, and the most noteworthy that of Pluto carrying off Proserpine. He executed a sketch for the Beheading of S. John the Baptist, which is now in a little church on the Piazza de' Salviati in Rome.

Meanwhile the sack of the city took place, and poor Rosso was taken prisoner by the Germans and used very ill, for, besides stripping him of his clothes, they made him carry weights on his back barefooted and with nothing on his head, and remove almost the whole stock from a cheesemonger's shop. Thus ill-treated by them, he escaped with difficulty to Perugia, where he was warmly welcomed and reclothed by the painter Domenico di Paris, for whom he drew the cartoon for a panel picture of the Magi, a very beautiful work, which is to be seen in the house of Domenico. But he did not stay long in that place, for, hearing that Bishop Tornabuoni, who was very much his friend, and had also fled from the sack, had gone to Borgo a San Sepolcro, he made his way thither.

There was living at that time in Borgo a San Sepolcro a pupil of Giulio Romano, the painter Raffaello dal Colle; and this master, having undertaken for a small price to paint a panel for S. Croce, the seat of a Company of Flagellants, in his native city, lovingly resigned the commission and gave it to Rosso, to the end that he might leave some example of his handiwork in that place. At this the Company showed resentment, but the Bishop gave him every facility; and when the picture, which brought him credit, was finished, it was set up in S. Croce. The Deposition from the Cross that it contains is something very rare and beautiful, because he rendered in the colors a certain effect of darkness to signify the eclipse that took place at Christ's death, and because it was executed with very great diligence.

Afterwards, at Citta' di Castello, he received the commission for a panel picture, on which he was about to set to work, when, as it was being primed with gesso, a roof fell upon it and broke it to pieces; while upon him there came a fever so violent, that he was like to die of it, on which account he had himself carried from Castello to Borgo a San Sepolcro. This malady being followed by a quartan fever, he then went on to the Pieve a San Stefano for a change of air, and finally to Arezzo, where he was entertained in the house of Benedetto Spadari, who so went to work with the help of Giovanni Antonio Lappoli of Arezzo and the many friends and relatives that they had, that Rosso was commissioned to paint in fresco a vault previously allotted to the painter Niccolo' Soggi, in the Madonna delle Lagrime. And so eager were they that he should leave such a memorial of himself in that city, that he was given a payment of three hundred crowns of gold. Whereupon Rosso began his cartoons in a room that they had allotted to him in a place called Murello; and there he finished four of them. In one he depicted our First Parents, bound to the Tree of the Fall, with Our Lady drawing from their mouths the Sin in the form of the Apple, and beneath her feet the Serpent; and in the air--wishing to signify that she was clothed with the sun and moon--he made nude figures of Phoebus and Diana. In the second is Moses bearing the Ark of the Covenant, represented by Our Lady surrounded by five Virtues. In another is the Throne of Solomon, also represented by the Madonna, to whom votive offerings are being brought, to signify those who have recourse to her for benefits: together with other bizarre fancies, which were conceived by the fruitful brain of M. Giovanni Pollastra, the friend of Rosso and a Canon of Arezzo, in compliment to whom Rosso made a most beautiful model of the whole work, which is now in my house at Arezzo. He also drew for that work a study of nude figures, which is a very choice thing; and it is a pity that it was never finished, for, if he had put it into execution and painted it in oils, instead of having to do it in fresco, it would indeed have been a miracle. But he was ever averse to working in fresco, and therefore went on delaying the execution of the cartoons, meaning to have the work carried out by Raffaello dal Borgo and others, so that in the end it was never done.

At that same time, being a courteous person, he made many designs for pictures and buildings in Arezzo and its neighborhood; among others, one for the Rectors of the Fraternity, of the chapel which is at the foot of the Piazza, wherein there is now the Volto Santo. For the same patrons he drew the design for a panel picture to be painted by his hand, containing a Madonna with a multitude under her cloak, which was to be set up in the same place; and this design, which was not put into execution, is in our book, together with many other most beautiful drawings by the hand of the same master.

But to return to the work that he was to execute in the Madonna delle Lagrime: there came forward as his security for this work Giovanni Antonio Lappoli of Arezzo, his most faithful friend, who gave him proofs of loving kindness with every sort of service. But in the year 1530, when Florence was being besieged, the Aretines, having been restored to liberty by the small judgment of Papo Altoviti, attacked the citadel and razed it to the ground. And because that people looked with little favor on Florentines, Rosso would not trust himself to them, and went off to Borgo a San Sepolcro, leaving the cartoons and designs for his work hidden away in the citadel.

Now those who had given him the commission for the panel at Castello, wished him to finish it; but he, on account of the illness that he had suffered at Castello, would not return to that city. He finished their panel, therefore, at Borgo a San Sepolcro; nor would he ever give them the pleasure of a glance at it. In it he depicted a multitude, with Christ in the sky being adored by four figures, and he painted Moors, Gypsies, and the strangest things in the world; but, with the exception of the figures, which are perfect in their excellence, the composition is concerned with anything rather than the wishes of those who ordered the picture of him. At the same time that he was engaged on that work, he disinterred dead bodies in the Vescovado, where he was living, and made a most beautiful anatomical model. Rosso was, in truth, an ardent student of all things relating to art, and few days passed without his drawing some nude from life.

He had always had the idea of finishing his life in France, and of thus delivering himself from that misery and poverty which are the lot of men who work in Tuscany, or in the country where they were born; and he resolved to depart. And with a view to appearing more competent in all matters, and to being ignorant of none, he had just learned the Latin tongue; when there came upon him a reason for further hastening his departure. For one Holy Thursday, on which day matins are chanted in the evening, one of his disciples, a young Aretine, being in church, made a blaze of sparks and flames with a lighted candle end and some resin, at the moment when the "darkness," as they call it, was in progress; and the boy was reproved by some priests, and even struck. Seeing this, Rosso, who had the boy seated at his side, sprang up full of anger against the priests. Thereupon an uproar began, without anyone knowing what it was all about, and swords were drawn against poor Rosso, who was busy with the priests. Taking to flight, therefore, he contrived to regain his own rooms without having been struck or overtaken by anyone. But he held himself to have been affronted; and having finished the panel for Castello, without troubling about his work at Arezzo or the wrong that he was doing to Giovanni Antonio, his security (for he had received more than a hundred and fifty crowns), he set off by night.

Taking the road by Pesaro, he made his way to Venice, where, being entertained by Messer Pietro Aretino, he made for him a drawing, which was afterwards engraved, of Mars sleeping with Venus, with the Loves and Graces despoiling him and carrying off his cuirass. Departing from Venice, he found his way into France, where he was received by the Florentine colony with much affection. There he painted some pictures, which were afterwards placed in the Gallery at Fontainebleau; and these he then presented to King Francis, who took infinite pleasure in them, but much more in the presence, speech, and manner of Rosso, who was imposing in person, with red hair in accordance with his name, and serious, deliberate, and most judicious in his every action. The King, then, after straightway granting him an allowance of four hundred crowns, and giving him a house in Paris, which he occupied but seldom, because he lived most of the time at Fontainebleau, where he had rooms and lived like a nobleman, appointed him superintendent over all the buildings, pictures, and other ornaments of that place.

There, in the first place, Rosso made a beginning with a gallery over the lower court, which he completed not with a vault, but with a ceiling, or rather, soffit, of woodwork, partitioned most beautifully into compartments. The side-walls he decorated all over with stucco-work, fantastic and bizarre in its distribution, and with carved cornices of many kinds; and on the piers were lifesize figures. Everything below the cornices, between one pier and another, he adorned with festoons of stucco, vastly rich, and others painted, and all composed of most beautiful fruits and every sort of foliage. And then, in a large space, he caused to be painted after his own designs, if what I have heard is true, about twenty-four scenes in fresco, representing, I believe, the deeds of Alexander the Great; for which, as I have said, he made all the designs, executing them in chiaroscuro with watercolors. At the two ends of this gallery are two panel pictures in oils by his hand, designed and painted with such perfection, that there is little better to be seen in the art of painting. In one of these are a Bacchus and a Venus, executed with marvellous art and judgment. The Bacchus is a naked boy, so tender, soft, and delicate, that he seems to be truly of flesh, yielding to the touch, and rather alive than painted; and about him are some vases painted in imitation of gold, silver, crystal, and various precious stones, so fantastic, and surrounded by devices so many and so bizarre, that whoever beholds this work, with its vast variety of invention, stands in amazement before it. Among other details, also, is a Satyr raising part of a pavilion, whose head, in its strange, goatlike aspect, is a marvel of beauty, and all the more because he seems to be smiling and full of joy at the sight of so beautiful a boy. There is also a little boy riding on a wonderful bear, with many other ornaments full of grace and beauty. In the other picture are Cupid and Venus, with other lovely figures; but the figure to which Rosso gave the greatest attention was the Cupid, whom he represented as a boy of twelve, although well grown, riper in features than is expected at that age, and most beautiful in every part.

The King, seeing these works, and liking them vastly, conceived an extraordinary affection for Rosso; wherefore no long time passed before he gave him a Canonicate in the Sainte Chapelle of the M adonna at Paris, with so many other revenues and benefits, that Rosso lived like a nobleman, with a goodly number of servants and horses, giving banquets and showing all manner of courtesies to all his friends and acquaintances, especially to the Italian strangers who arrived in those parts.

After this, he executed another hall, which is called the Pavilion, because it is in the form of a Pavilion, being above the rooms on the first floor, and thus situated above any of the others. This apartment he decorated from the level of the floor to the roof with a great variety of beautiful ornaments in stucco, figures in the round distributed at equal intervals, and children, festoons, and various kinds of animals. In the compartments on the walls are seated figures in fresco, one in each; and such is their number, that there may be seen among them images of all the Heathen Gods and Goddesses of the ancients. Last of all, above the windows, is a frieze all adorned with stucco, and very rich, but without pictures.

He then executed a vast number of works in many chambers, bathrooms, and other apartments, both in stucco and in painting, of some of which drawings may be seen, executed in engraving and published abroad, which are full of grace and beauty; as are also the numberless designs that Rosso made for salt-cellars, vases, bowls, and other things of fancy, all of which the King afterwards caused to be executed in silver; but these were so numerous that it would take too long to mention them all. Let it be enough to say that he made designs for all the vessels of a sideboard for the King, and for all the details of the trappings of horses, triumphal masquerades, and everything else that it is possible to imagine, showing in these such fantastic and bizarre conceptions, that no one could do better.

In the year 1540, when the Emperor Charles V went to France under the safeguard of King Francis, and visited Fontainebleau, having with him not more than twelve men, Rosso executed one half of the decorations that the King ordained in order to honor that great Emperor, and the other half was executed by Francesco Primaticcio of Bologna. The works that Rosso made, such as arches, colossal figures, and other things of that kind, were, so it was said at the time, the most astounding that had ever been made by any man up to that age. But a great part of the rooms finished by Rosso at the aforesaid Palace of Fontainebleau were destroyed after his death by the same Francesco Primaticcio, who has made a new and larger structure in the same place.

Among those who worked with Rosso on the aforesaid decorations in stucco and relief, and beloved by him beyond all the others, were the Florentine Lorenzo Naldino, Maestro Francesco of Orleans, Maestro Simone of Paris, Maestro Claudio, likewise a Parisian, Maestro Lorenzo of Picardy, and many others. But the best of them all was Domenico del Barbieri, who is an excellent painter and master of stucco, and a marvellous draughtsman, as is proved by his engraved works, which may be numbered among the best in common circulation. The painters, likewise, whom he employed in those works at Fontainebleau, were Luca Penni, brother of Giovan Francesco Penni, called Il Fattore, who was a disciple of Raffaello da Urbino; the Fleming Leonardo, a very able painter, who executed the designs of Rosso to perfection in colors; Bartolommeo Miniati, a Florentine; with Francesco Caccianimici, and Giovan Battista da Bagnacavallo. These last entered his service when Francesco Primaticcio went by order of the King to Rome, to make moulds of the Laocoon, the Apollo, and many other choice antiquities, for the purpose of casting them afterwards in bronze. I say nothing of the carvers, the master-joiners, and innumerable others of whom Rosso availed himself in those works, because there is no need to speak of them all, although many of them executed works worthy of much praise.

In addition to the things mentioned above, Rosso executed with his own hand a S. Michael, which is a rare work. For the Constable he painted a panel picture of the Dead Christ, a choice thing, which is at a seat of that noble, called Ecouen; and he also executed some exquisite miniatures for the King. He then drew a book of anatomical studies, intending to have it printed in France; of which there are some sheets by his own hand in our book of drawings. Among his possessions, also, after he was dead, were found two very beautiful cartoons, in one of which is a Leda of singular beauty, and in the other the Tiburtine Sibyl showing to the Emperor Octavian the Glorious Virgin with the Infant Christ in her arms. In the latter he drew the King, the Queen, their Guard, and the people, with such a number of figures, and all so well drawn, that it may be said with truth that this was one of the most beautiful things that Rosso ever did.

By reason of these works and many others, of which nothing is known, he became so dear to the King, that a little before his death he found himself in possession of more than a thousand crowns of income, without counting the allowances for his work, which were enormous; insomuch that, living no longer as a painter, but rather as a prince, he kept a number of servants and horses to ride, and had his house filled with tapestries, silver, and other valuable articles of furniture. But Fortune, who never, or very seldom, maintains for long in high estate one who puts his trust too much in her, brought him headlong down in the strangest manner ever known. For while Francesco di Pellegrino, a Florentine, who delighted in painting and was very much his friend, was associating with him in the closest intimacy, Rosso was robbed of some hundreds of ducats; whereupon the latter, suspecting that no one but the same Francesco could have done this, had him arrested by the hands of justice, rigorously examined, and grievously tortured. But he, knowing himself innocent, and declaring nothing but the truth, was finally released; and, moved by just anger, he was forced to show his resentment against Rosso for the shameful charge that he had falsely laid upon him.

Having therefore issued a writ for libel against him, he pressed him so closely, that Rosso, not being able to clear himself or make any defence, felt himself to be in a sorry plight, perceiving that he had not only accused his friend falsely, but had also stained his own honor; and to eat his words, or to adopt any other shameful method, would likewise proclaim him a false and worthless man. Resolving, therefore, to kill himself by his own hand rather than be punished by others, he took the following course. One day that the King happened to be at Fontainebleau, he sent a peasant to Paris for a certain most poisonous essence, pretending that he wished to use it for making colors or varnishes, but intending to poison himself, as he did. The peasant, then, returned with it; and such was the malignity of the poison, that, merely through holding his thumb over the mouth of the phial, carefully stopped as it was with wax, he came very near losing that member, which was consumed and almost eaten away by the deadly potency of the poison. And shortly afterwards it slew Rosso, although he was in perfect health, he having drunk it to the end that it might take his life, as it did in a few hours.

This news, being brought to the King, grieved him beyond measure, since it seemed to him that by the death of Rosso he had lost the most excellent craftsman of his day. However, to the end that the work might not suffer, he had it carried on by Francesco Primaticcio of Bologna, who, as has been related, had already done much work for him; giving him a good Abbey, even as he had presented a Canonicate to Rosso.

Rosso died in the year 1541, leaving great regrets behind him among his friends and brother-craftsmen, who have learned by his example what benefits may accrue from a prince to one who is eminent in every field of art, and well-mannered and gentle in all his actions, as was that master, who for many reasons deserved, and still deserves, to be admired as one truly most excellent.



Back to Vasari's Lives of the Artists

Back to Mannerism

Back to the Cinquecento


This Web Site Created, Owned, and Maintained by Adrienne DeAngelis acd@efn.org