Morgan Library & Museum opens Fantasy and Invention Rosso Fiorentino and Sixteenth-Century Florentine Drawing

. November 18, 2012

Morgan Library & Museum presents Fantasy and Invention Rosso Fiorentino and Sixteenth-Century Florentine Drawing an exhibition on view November 16, 2012–February 3, 2013.

Rosso Fiorentino (1494–1540), Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1520. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. Photo © The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

The emergence of Mannerism in Florentine Renaissance art as exemplified by the brilliant painter Rosso Fiorentino is the subject of a new exhibition at The Morgan Library & Museum. The show includes the artist’s extraordinary painting, Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist, as well a selection of drawings, printed books, letters, and manuscripts by other Florentine masters. The Holy Family, on loan from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, is one of only three paintings by Rosso in the United States.

Born Giovanni Battista di Jacopo di Guaspare in Florence, Rosso Fiorentino (1494–1540)—so known because of his distinctive red hair—was one of the
foremost exponents of the late Renaissance style known as Mannerism, or the maniera. Characterized by extreme artifice, effortless grace, and refinement, and given to displays of inventive fantasy, spatial ambiguity, and strange beauty, this style developed about 1520 simultaneously in Rome (in the circle of Raphael) and in Florence (in the work of artists associated with Andrea del Sarto).

Using the Holy Family as a starting point, Fantasy and Invention traces the Florentine iteration of Mannerism through some twenty drawings from the Morgan’s collection; five autograph documents and letters from leading artists of the day, including Michelangelo; two printed books; and a rare drawing by Rosso, on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Together, these works speak to the fundamental role of disegno—the Italian word for drawing that carries broader, theoretical connotations of artistic skill and invention—in the formulation of Mannerism.

The exhibition begins with the style’s antecedents in the High Renaissance as seen in major examples by Fra Bartolommeo and Andrea del Sarto. It then moves on to Mannerism’s early stirrings in the art of Rosso and Jacopo Pontormo and its elaboration by their younger contemporaries Francesco Salviati and Giorgio Vasari. Finally, Mannerism’s more formal, frozen codification later in the century is explored through the work of Agnolo Bronzino, Giovanni Battista Naldini, Alessandro Allori and others, many of whom were employed by the Medici rulers of Florence.

The Morgan Library & Museum 225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016-3405 212.685.0008 www.themorgan.org

Category: Fine Art

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