By Anne Leader and Alexis Culotta
Artist Francesco di Cristofano, better known as Franciabigio, died on 14 January, 1525, in his hometown of Florence at age 41. A collaborative spirit often overshadowed by his artistic contemporaries, Franciabigio is nevertheless known for his religious scenes and portraits.
Training under artist Mariotto Albertinelli, close collaborator with fellow Florentine Fra Bartolommeo, Franciabigio himself became a close colleague of Andrea del Sarto. The two established a shared workshop near the Piazza del Grano in the first decade of the 16th century. Del Sarto’s influence can be detected in Franciabigio’s works, such as his frescoes at Santissima Annunziata, but his method was his own and revealed the influence of others as well.
His portraits, like that of a brooding man now in the Louvre, show his familiarity with Raphael, another artist whose career was cut short by an early death. Many see portraiture as Franciabigio’s particular talent. Even though many of his sitters are unknown, the artist was able to portray a sense of familiarity and immediacy, often showing his subjects as if just interrupted by the arrival of the viewer. Beyond portraiture, Franciabigio enjoyed large scale fresco commissions as well. The final capstone to his career was one such endeavor: a frescoed scene of The Triumph of Cicero (1520-1521) for the Medici family at their Poggio a Caiano villa as part of a series that included works by artists such has Pontormo.
Andrew John Martin. “Franciabigio.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.
Susan Regan McKillop, Franciabigio (University of California Press, 1974).
Noli me tangere, 1520-25, fresco. Florence: Museo del Cenacolo di San Salvi
Portrait of a Young Man Writing, 1522. Berlin: Gemäldegalerie
Portrait of a Man, ca. 1510, oil on panel. Paris: Louvre
Betrothal of the Virgin, 1513, fresco, Santissima Annunziata, Florence