Andrea del Sarto

Florentine painter of the High Renaissance, who made his reputation with a series of frescoes on the life of John the Baptist. Andrea was born Andrea d'Agnolo in Florence, Italy, on July 16, 1486. He studied painting under Piero di Cosimo, and from about 1508 to about 1512 he collaborated with Florentine painter Franciabigio. At about the same time, Andrea executed fresco decorations for the Servites, a religious order, in their Church of the Santissima Annunziata at Florence. By 1510 he completed five scenes depicting events in the life of S. Filippo Benizzi, a 13th-century leader of the Servite order. These works helped establish Andrea's reputation as an excellent draftsman, a master colorist, and an expert in the use of light and shade. Many commissions followed, including the grisailles (monochromatic frescoes painted in shades of gray) of Saint John the Baptist in the cloister of the Scalzo in Florence.

Andrea gained international acclaim, and in 1518 he was summoned to the court of Francis I of France, who entrusted him with money to purchase works of art in Italy. He returned to Florence in 1519 and remained there, using the money for his own purposes. In Florence, Andrea continued his work on the fresco series in the cloister of the Scalzo, which he completed in 1526. In 1525 he painted the Madonna del Sacco, which is generally considered his masterpiece, in the cloister of Santissima Annunziata. He executed his last major work in fresco, the Last Supper (1527) in the refectory of the convent of San Salvi near Florence. He died on September 29, 1530.

Andrea also painted numerous easel paintings, including portraits, such as those of his wife and of himself in the Pitti Palace, Florence; and religious subjects, such as the Madonna of the Harpies (1517, Uffizi Gallery, Florence). Among his other noted works are the Pietà (1524, Pitti Palace) and The Assumption (1530, Pitti Palace). His pupils included the architect and painter Giorgio Vasari and the painters Jacopo da Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino.

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