Lot 8
  • 8

Giovanni Battista di Jacopo Rosso, called Rosso Fiorentino

200,000 - 300,000 USD
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  • Giovanni Battista di Jacopo Rosso, called Rosso Fiorentino
  • Putti embracing
  • oil on panel, a fragment


A. Natali, Rosso Fiorentino, leggiadra maniera e terribilità di cose stravaganti, Milan 2006, p. 48;
C. Falciani, in Norma e capriccio, spagnoli in Italia agli esordi della maniera moderna, exhibition catalogue, Milan 2013, pp. 284 - 285, under cat. no. IV.10, reproduced p. 284, fig. 1.

Catalogue Note

This charming scene of embracing putti is the only recorded fragment of an altarpiece of the Madonna and Child in Glory by the Florentine mannerist, Rosso Fiorentino. It likely dates to 1513 – 1517, when Rosso was working alongside Andrea del Sarto and Jacopo Pontormo in the church of Santissima Annunziata in Florence. Rosso’s Assumption, still in situ in SS. Annunziata, was not well received at the time, as the artist’s pronounced mannerism—with its vibrant, discordant colors and assertive emotional presence—was at odds with the more restrained classicism employed by del Sarto and Pontormo in the other works in the cycle.

This fragment was first brought to the attention of the scholarly community by Carlo Falciani at the symposium, Rosso aujourd’hui, convened by the Insituto italiano di cultura in Paris in 2003. Dr. Falciani’s unpublished paper, “Nouveaux éléments sur la jeunesse de Rosso,” identified this work as an autograph fragment by Rosso and connected it to a known copy of the Madonna and Child in Glory, attributed to Rosso and conserved in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (fig. 1). The Hermitage picture reveals the influence of Andrea del Sarto and Jacopo Pontormo on Rosso at this stage of his career, supporting the early date of 1513 -1517. Indeed, the face of the older Christ Child and his embrace of the Madonna are highly reminiscent of del Sarto’s own images of Christ and his mother.

It is interesting that in the present painting, the putto to the right wears a laurel wreath, while the related figure in the Hermitage painting does not. Although there are many possible reasons for this change, it could be that the wreath was eliminated from the copy in order to remove an allusion to pagan imagery and bring the work more in line with acceptable contemporary religious convention.

A notoriously difficult and thorny figure, Rosso Fiorentino was one of the leading proponents of Florentine mannerism during the sixteenth century. His emphasis on emotional expressiveness, idiosyncratic use of color, and dynamic—and sometimes violent—sense of tension and movement were often met with a mixed reception by his patrons and critics. Nevertheless, Rosso found favor at the court of Francis I at Fontainebleau from 1530 – 1540, where he became one of the leading proponents of a more secular brand of northern mannerism.