By Anne Leader
Piero di Cosimo was born on 2 January 1462 in Florence. The son of toolmaker Lorenzo di Piero d’Antonio, Piero took the name of his teacher — Cosimo Rosselli — as his own. Piero was working in Rosselli’s shop by 1480 and accompanied him to Rome the next year to help fresco the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Piero seems to have been working independently by the end of the decade, though he maintained a relationship with his mentor and several of students, including Fra Bartolommeo and Mariotto Albertinelli, through Rosselli’s death in 1507.
Piero was acclaimed for his painting of landscapes as well as his creative approach to both mythological and Christian subjects. He had a number of students go on to great success, including Jacopo Pontormo and Andrea del Sarto. He is best known, perhaps, for the colorful biography written by Giorgio Vasari, describing him as an eccentric, forgetful loner who subsisted on hard-boiled eggs.
Reference: William Griswold. “Piero di Cosimo.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.
Further reading: Dennis Geronimus, Piero di Cosimo: Visions Beautiful and Strange (2007).
The Young St. John the Baptist, tempera and oil on wood. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Bequest of Michael Dreicer, 1921.
Perseus Rescuing Andromeda, oil on canvas, 1510 or 1513, Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi.
Madonna and Child Enthroned with Sts. Peter, John the Baptist, Dominic, and Nicholas of Bari, c.1481–85, St. Louis Art Museum, 1: 1940.