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ANDREA DEL SARTO

1486-1531

High Renaissance Florentine Painter

Influences: Fra Bartolomeo, Michelangelo, and Leonardo Da Vinci

Cause of Death -  Plague,  "he died, aged forty-two, on the 22nd of January, 1531, and was buried very quietly by the “Brethren of the Scalzo” in the church of the S. Annunziata."

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Biography of Andrea Del Sarto

Escape from King Frances

Andrea grew up in a family of tailors and cobblers. His name "Andrea del Sarto",  literally means "the tailor's Andrew",  sarto is the Italian word for tailor.  Andrea Del Sarto's rose quickly in the ranks of Florentine painters and was in high demand while still a young painter. His reputation was so great that the King of France invited him to court.  The following insight into Andrea Del Sarto life is From Giorgio Vasari's:  Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects published in c. 1550 "The king gave him a large pension, and did everything to retain him, promising him that he should lack nothing, for he was pleased with Andrea's quickness and his satisfaction with everything. Besides this, Andrea pleased the court, doing many works for them. If he had considered his origin and the position to which Fortune had raised him, no doubt he could have attained an honourable rank, not to speak of riches. But one day, as he was doing a St. Jerome in penitence for the king's mother, some letters arrived from his wife at Florence, and he began, for some cause or another, to think of returning. He asked the king's permission to go, saying that he would return when he had arranged some affairs, and that he would bring back his wife, to enable him to live there more comfortably, and that he would bring with him valuable paintings and sculptures. The king trusted him, and gave him money, while Andrea swore on the Gospels to return in a few months. Arrived in Florence,  he enjoyed his wife, his friends and the city for several months. When the time for his return to France had passed, he found that in building and pleasures, without working, he had spent all his money and the king's also. But though he wished to return, the tears and entreaties of his wife prevailed more than his own needs and his promise to the king. Francis became so angry at his faithlessness that he for a long time looked askance at Florentine painters, and he swore that if Andrea ever fell into his hands he would have more pain than pleasure, in spite of all his ability. Thus Andrea remained in Florence, fallen very low from his high station, and maintaining himself as best he could."

The Siege of Florence

  Andrea Del Sarto lived during troubled and restless times. The world was in transition. The outdated feudal order imposed by the Church was buckling under the expansion of towns, the rise of the merchant class, the emergence of national states, the spread of religious reform and invention of the printing press. People were becoming fascinated with science, art,  political affairs and  travel to far off lands. Andrea Del Sarto was born at the beginning of the modern world. In his life time he was recognized as one of the most greatest painters in the history of art.

 Florence, Andrea Del Sarto's hometown was subject to invasion and political intrigue. Historian, Leader Scott, describes Andrea Del Sarto's life during the infamous Siege of Florence, "During the siege, work was found for artists, but of an unpleasant nature. Andrea was commissioned, in 1530, to paint the effigies of some traitors on the palace of the Signoria. He dared not refuse, but remembering that his namesake, Andrea del Castagno, who had been similarly employed, gained the name of “Andrea degli Impiccati,” he was anxious that the same name should not attach to himself. Accordingly he had an enclosed platform made, and giving out that his pupil, Bernardino del Buda, was going to paint the effigies, he worked at them himself secretly, till, on being uncovered, they seemed to be real persons writhing on the gibbet."

Plague

Although Andrea del Sarto had survived the siege of Florence he and his beautiful wife had gone without food for days and like the other residents had lost many pounds. When the plague struck the city  in 1531 thousands perished and Andrea was among them. Renaissance scholar, Amy Steedman, describes his last few days thusly "Perhaps Andrea had suffered for want of good food during the siege, perhaps he was overworked and tired; but, whatever was the cause, he was one of the first to be seized by that terrible disease. Alone he fought the enemy, and alone he died. Lucrezia had left him as soon as he fell ill, for she feared the deadly plague, and Andrea gladly let her go, for he loved her to the last with the same great unselfish love. So passed away the faultless painter, and his was the last great name engraved upon that golden record of Florentine Art which had made Florence famous in the eyes of the world. Other artists came after him, but Art was on the wane in the City of Flowers, and her glory was slowly departing."
 

Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Renaissance Movement rebirth, rediscovery of the classical world,  sfumato, chiaroscuro, publication of Della Pittura, a book about the laws of mathematical perspective for artists,  spiritually significant,  illuminated manuscript,  idealized biblical themes, scriptorium, illuminator, plague, Age of Discovery, curiosity about the natural world,  realistic use of colours and  light, Old Testament stories, ethereal and foggy backgrounds, Gospel parables, romanticized landscapes,  Christian symbolism.

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References -

Giorgio Vasari's:  Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects published in c. 1550

Fra Bartolommeo By Leader Scott

Knights of the Art; stories of the Italian painters by  Amy Steedman