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By Giorgio Vasari -, Public Domain, Link

Designing richly colored compositions with unusual experimentation and passion to create such drama and special effect that took precedence over naturalism and perspective, the Florentine artist, Jacopo Carucci da Pontormo, is celebrated as one of the leaders of the Mannerist movement, who broke away from High Renaissance classicism to create a more personal and expressive style, classified as early Mannerism.

Described as a melancholy artist, Pontormo was born on May 24, 1494, at Pontorme, near Empoli. He was the son of Bartolommeo Carucci, a painter. According to the biographer Giorgio Vasari, he was apprenticed to Leonardo da Vinci and afterwards to Mariotto Albertinelli and Piero di Cosimo. At the age of 18 he entered the workshop of Andrea del Sarto, whose influence is most apparent in his early works.

A precocious youth, Pontormo painted his “Joseph in Egypt” in about 1515, one of a series for Pier Francesco Borgherini. By this time, he had created a distinctive style – full of restless movement and disconcertingly irrational effects of scale and space, which put him in the vanguard of Mannerism. In 1518, Pontormo completed an altarpiece in the Church of San Michele Visdomini, Florence, that reflects, in its agitated, almost neurotic emotionalism, a departure from the balance and tranquility of the High Renaissance.

In 1521, Pontormo was employed by the Medici family to decorate their villa at Poggio a Caiano with mythological subjects. In the “Passion Cycle” (1522-25) for the Certosa near Florence, he borrowed ideas from the German artist Albrecht Dürer, whose engravings and woodcuts were circulating in Italy. Pontormo's mature style is best exemplified in works such as “The Deposition” (1526-28), painted for the altarpiece of Santa Felicità, and a cycle of frescoes in the Church of S. Lorenzo (1546-56).

Under the profound influence of his friend Michelangelo, Pontormo developed more sculptural form and disciplined his emotionalism, retaining poignance. During his last ten years, he became increasingly reclusive and disturbed, shunning even Agnolo Bronzino, who had been like an adopted son to him. A diary survives from 1554 to 1557, tells us much of his neurotic character- melancholy and introspective, dismayed by the slightest illness.

At the age of 62, Pontormo died in Florence, Italy, on January 2, 1557. Today his numerous survived drawings and paintings are found in various galleries in Europe and America, as well as in Florence.


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