During Sarto was. Andrea del Sarto was born

During the Italian renaissance there were many-gifted
artist that have rose to the scene and displayed countless of extravagant
artworks, but many of these art works were usually overshadowed by big names
such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and The last supper or Michelangelo’s
Sistine chapel ceiling. One of the artworks that seems to me that has been
overshadowed and I personally feel deserves more recognition is The Holy Family with the Young Saint John
the Baptist created by Andrea del Sarto.

Before I can talk about The Holy Family with the Young Saint John
the Baptist I have to first introduce whom Andrea del Sarto was. Andrea del
Sarto was born on July 16th, 1486 in Florence; his real name is Andrea d’Agnolo di Fancesco di Luca di
Paolo del Migliore. His father was name Agnolo was a tailor and is most
likely the reason he was known as del Sarto, which translates to “of the
tailor” which is referring him to as the tailor’s son. He was a painter during
the early mannerism and High Renaissance and often considered a leading painter
in Florence with Michelangelo and Raphael working in Rome. Around the age of 7
Andrea del Sarto followed under the footsteps of a goldsmith, woodcarver and
soon later at the age of 12 he became an apprentice to a painter named Gian
Barile: later he also became the apprentice to Piero di Cosimo a Florentine
painter who was heavily influenced by other painters such as Fra Bartolommeo
and Leonardo da Vinci. Andrea del Sarto later on became the pupil of Raffaellino
del Garbo another Florentine painter in the early renaissance. 

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Later, in del Sarto’s life he opened
a studio with Marcantonio Franciabigio and it is believed that the first
project they created together is the Baptism
of Christ for the Florentine Compagnia dello Scalzo that was the beginning
of the monochrome fresco series. Later on, in the year of 1508 he became part
of the painter’s guild. During the years from 1509 to 1514 one of the five
original mendicant orders The Servite Order hired del Sarto along with two
other painters for a planned series of frescoes at the Bascilla della
Santissima Annunziata di Firenze. Sarto would later complete a total of seven
Frescoes in the atrium. Five of the Frescoes del Sarto created depicted the
life and miracles of Filippo Benizzi a saint who died in the early 1285. One
shows the saint healing leper which showcases Filippio in a blue robe along
with two other men also wearing blue robes and a man with leper dressed in beige
approaching them and In the far distance it appears to be the same group of
people healing the man with leper. Another one of the frescos is the predicting
the bad end of some blasphemers, another showing the healing of sick adults,
another showing him healing a child in his death bed and what seems to be an
exorcism of a girl possessed by the devil the girl is shown with an expression
of pain seeming to have rely on the assistance of other people in the room to
offer her support.

In addition to the seven frescos
Andrea del Sarto made, his contract also said he was required to paint five
scenes of the miracles and the life of saint Sebastian; but Andrea del Sarto
said he no longer wished to paint them most likely due to how little his pay
was. Soon after The Servites were able to convince del Sarto to create two more
frescos each of them in the forecourt. One of the frescoes was the Procession of the Magi which is somewhat
different from most of Andrea del Sarto’s later works in means of color. This
fresco depicts three kings who are bearing gifts for the new born Christ, the
three kings are followed by some people to the building on the left, also
followed by a massive crowd of people and further back in the fresco one can
see trees, hills, horse riders and a giraffe this fresco would be completed in
the year 1511. The second was the Nativity
of a Virgin which was completed in 1514 showcases a huge bed and Marry’s
mother giving birth on the bed and multiple women working together attending
multiple different task. These frescoes were viewed by many as “two paintings
that met together perfectly” and that simply complimented each other.

In the year of 1516 a pieta and a
Madonna were sent to a French court, which later introduced an invitation from
Francois 1 who was the first king of France from the Angouleme branch of the
House of Valois. In the year 1518 del Sarto traveled to Paris with the
accompany of  one of his pupils named
Andrea Squarzzella. In the process of leaving according to Visari who was a
student of Andrea del Sarto and his biographer, del Sarto left his wife behind
whose name is Lucrezia del Fede. Lucrezia was a wealthy widow who he married in
1517 or 1518. Lucrezia would soon demand Andrea to return Florence. The King
agreed that del Sarto would be able to go as long  if he were to return soon, the king would
later entrust a large sum of money to del Sarto to purchase works of art for
the French Court; after his leave Del Sarto would never return to France and
purchased a house with the money the King had given to del Sarto which
completely ruined his reputation with France. This although was according to
Vasari and should only be considered as a 100% true. What is true though is
that there are only two surviving paintings of Andrea del Sarto’s that he made
in France one is Charity which was an
oil on wood painting that depicts what is the personification of Charity a
woman who is wearing a red dress with an orange fabric over and light blue
fabric that covers the lower half of her who is breast feeding a child while
holding him with her left hand and a second child with a wreath around his hair
with a piece of fabric going around his waist line on Charity’s knee and a
third child with his arms crossed and head down what seems to be Marry foot
covered by the blue fabric she has underneath. The second painting was a portrait
a woman the woman is depicted as someone who very light skin complexion, black
pupils, a semi roundish face brown and brown hair that is split down the
middle. She is shown wearing what appears to be a white veil, a gold necklace
that stretches close the middle part of her collarbones, she is also shown
wearing a square neck dress where the hole for her neck reach towards the
middle of her shoulders, with white poufy drapery on both sides of her arms. Her
arms are covered from what seems by a red sleeve shirt that either has ruffles
or stripes on them and toward the end where the hand hole are for the sleeves
is this white fabric that poufs out as well; and finally her hands are shown to
be touching and there is a golden ring on the pointer finger of her right hand.

In the year of 1515 Andrea del Sarto was
commissioned for a painting for a Florentine Covent of San Francesco die Macci.
The painting was called The Madonna of the Harpies which was an
altarpiece made by oil on wood. The
Madonna of the Harpies is considered by many and especially by Vasari as Andrea
del Sarto’s most famous piece. The painting is a Sacra conversazione that
depicts Marry and Jesus standing on a pedestal that has a sculpted relief of
harpies. Surrounding them are two small baby angels clinging on to Marry’s
legs; it also has Saint Francis and John the Evangelist on either side of Marry.

Further down in the road of Del
Sarto’s life he began working again in Florence and this time he had received
one of the most important contracts of his entire career, which was to decorate
part of the villa Medici in Poggio a Caiano nearby Florence. But sadly, the
project fell apart in the year 1521 after pope Leo X died in December of 1521. In
the year of 1520 he bought a piece of land on the Via della Crocetta and built
a house. Soon around the year of 1523-1524 the bubonic plague broke out and
made del Sarto and his wife Lucrezia del Fede seek sanctuary inside of the
Mugello, which is a valley in the north of Florence.          

During this time Andrea del Sarto
painted a Pieta with Saints for the
altar of their church. The Pieta with
Saints was an oil on wood painting that depicted Marry wearing that
somewhat reddish pink dress that Andrea del Sarto often depicts her in, holding
the arm of Jesus who del Sarto is attempting to make him seem lifeless while
John the Evangelist is in blue with a red sash across his chest is appear to be
giving Jesus support for being upright by placing his hands over his back;
while Marry Magdalen is on the right hand side with her hands push together
near her cheek, with Christ’s feet place on her lap.  The bubonic plague gladly for Andrea del Sarto
only lasted for a short period of time. After the plague, Sarto in the year of
1527 once again worked for the republic government of Florence after the
expulsion of the Medici. Around these times Andrea del Sarto would create The Holy Family with the Young Saint John
the Baptist.    

Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist is an oil on wood painting measuring
in at 53 1/2 x 39 5/8 inches; it was speculated to be painted in-between the
years of 1528-1529. It was created for Giovanni Borgherini a very important
individual in during the time Florence was a Republic before the Medici
regained rule over Florence.

Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist depicts Marry who is in a clear Vail,
a light pink/ light coral dress with a dark red square collar that covers her
shoulders and just a little below her collarbone, the sleeves of her dressed
are rolled up revealing what could possibly be the sleeves of a yellow shirt
she is wearing underneath. She is also wearing a green sash around her waist, a
halo above her head, and there is also what appears to be a blue robe by her
thighs, which often the same color, robes that Mary would be depicted in other
paintings such as The Virgin and child
Enthroned by Rogier van der Weyden or Massacio’s Holy trinity. To the right of Mary, she is shown to be holding Jesus
from the bottom of his left elbow with her left hand and on his side with her
right hand.

Jesus is depicted as an infant with
chubby cheeks and what appears to be maybe blonde or very light brown curly
hair. His mother is supporting him with his left foot being planted on the
wooden table and his right foot on what appears to be placed on a pillow. He is
shown to be wearing nothing but a shot silk cloth around his waist that is going
from a light blue to a purple color. Now unlike Mary who is appeared to be
gazing on the globe with a sort of sad like expression, baby Jesus is smiling at
what appears to be us the audience. He is shown to be grabbing a globe of earth
with gold like markings on it going across the globe horizontally and vertically.

Another person shown to be holding
the globe is Saint John the Baptist who is to the right of Christ. Saint John
is shown carrying the globe from underneath and kneeling on a red robe; he is
depicted as a young boy probably around the age of 11 with light brown curly
hair who is very muscularly toned with a baby like face, he is shown facing his
body to the left of him and is on a portrait side view. He is showed wearing
his traditional clothing as usually depicted in other painting such as Leonardo’s
St. John the Baptist or Duccio’s Maesta. His clothing is made from camel
hair; the clothing wraps around his left shoulder and comes down to his waist barely
covering his crotch area and just like Mary he as well has a halo above his

Right behind to left of Saint John
the Baptist we can see a shadowy Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph is depicted as an old
man with no hair above his scalp but short grey hair on the sides his head and
a scruffy grey beard. He has his eyes wide open staring into the audience
similar to Christ; but his facial expression is not smiling but more of worried
expression as well similar to Mary’s expression and conclusively we can see the
red robe he is wearing which appears to be the same robe Saint John the Baptist
Is kneeling on and the robe behind Jesus’s right leg and a Halo similar to what
Mary and John have.

At first glance I believed this
painting was a way foreshadowing the death of Christ because it shows Marry who
appears to me at least having a concerned look while staring at the globe, but Jesus
is simply holding the globe and smiling at the viewer, which I believe was in a
way him showing that he was okay with what would happen to him if it was in a
way to protect us the viewer. But further investigating on what the painting could
have meant many people considered it to be “Cities allegiance from its patron
saint John the Baptist is transferred to Christ.” Upon reading this I agreed
with this and felt it made more sense due to Saint John handing the globe
(Florence) to Jesus and Jesus gladly accepting it.   

 The Holy
Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist is a painting that Vasari and
many others considered one of Andrea del Sarto’s final greatest works. It
clearly shows what Andrea del Sarto was trying to achieve a Mannerist style
with the way the figures are place such as Mary who has her right hand around
Jesus’s waist where there is no way her right hand can be place that in that
specific position. We can also see this Mannerist style with the highly vibrant
colors such as on the blue and red robe and Jesus’s cloth around his waist.

Andrea del Sarto was considered by Vasari and others as a person who lacked
ambition and fire. Also as a person whose greatest faults were his humbleness and
his devotion to his wife who according to Vasari was a woman who was jealous, ill-tempered
and quarrelsome to his apprentices and bossy wife who altered the career of del
Sarto. But Andrea del Sarto is also considered an amazing artist to many people
and although Vasari says everything that I previously mentioned he does pay his
respects to his teacher by saying as an artist he was “free from error and
absolutely perfect in every respect.” This is truly most noticeable with multiple
extravagant works that Andrea del Sarto had created such as The Madonna with Harpies and especially The Holy Family with Young Saint John the Baptist
which truly shows a high point in his career with the saturated color scheme
and just an excellent composition throughout the oil painting.


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