Livio Agresti (1508 – 1580) of Forli was a painter and draughtsman, active during the Italian High Renaissance. Livio’s earliest works can be found at the Pinacoteca Civica di Forli, including a rendering of King David (above) that was originally part of a larger commission for the decoration of the Chapel of the Sacrament in Forli Cathedral.
By the 1545, Livio had re-located to Rome and was described as a member of Pierino del Vaga’s workshop. Consequently, Livio assisted his new master with the decoration of the Sala Paolina, Castel Sant’ Angelo, Rome between 1545 and 1547, although there is no reference to him in the published documents dealing with Perino’s activity in the castle between these two dates.
According to the biographer and polymath, Giorgio Vasari, Livio’s move to Rome was motivated by a need to perfect himself in design and if Vasari is to be believed, the opportunities afforded in the Eternal City must not have disappointed Livio. Following on from his work at Santo Spirito in Sassia, Livio was required to carry out a rendering of Pedro of Aragon in the Sala Regia of the Vatican (below). The artist was also patronised by the Cardinal of Augsburg, for whom he painted seven stories in silver sheets, using a method which he is said (by Baglione) to have invented. After presenting these unique renderings to the King of Spain, the cardinal retained Livio, travelled with him to Augsburg and had him execute several paintings. Livio also benefitted from the patronage of Pope Gregory XIII, for whom he completed a number of altarpieces.
Despite generous artistic sponsorships from two popes and a prince of the church, Livio appeared to continue fulfilling projects destined for his native Forli. For example, sometime between 1550 and 1560, he completed a painting of the crucified Christ, flanked by two angels, for the church of San Francesco Grande (below).
As Livio’s life drew to a close, he apparently retired to the Hospital of Santo Spirito and died there in around 1580. His drawings, like his painted works became dispersed across the globe, and can be found in print and drawing collections in Florence, Rome, Windsor, Vienna and Forli.
Images: Livio Agresti, detail of King David from Stories of the Eucharist and Persons of the Old Testament, 1535, fresco, Pinacoteca Civica di Forli. Wikimedia Commons.
Communion of the Apostles, c.1540, fresco, Pinacoteca Civica di Forli. Wikimedia Commons.
Photograph of the Sala Paolina, Castel Sant’ Angelo, Rome. Wikimedia Commons.
Detail from Pedro of Aragon Offers his Kingdom to Pope Innocent III, 1461-1563, fresco, Sala Regia, Vatican Palace, Rome. Wikimedia Commons.
Circumcision of the Baby Jesus, 1558, oil on canvas, Museo Diocesano e Capitolare di Terni. Wikimedia Commons.
Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist and a Musician Angel, 16th century, oil on walnut panel, private collection. Web Gallery of Art.
Detail of Christ from Crucifixion with Two Angels, 1550-1560, oil on panel, Pinacoteca Civica di Forli. Wikimedia Commons.
Detail of an angel from Crucifixion with Two Angels, 1550-1560, oil on panel, Pinacoteca Civica di Forli. Wikimedia Commons.
References: G. Baglione., Le vite de’ pittori scultori et architetti. Dal pontificato di Gregorio 13. del 1572. In fino a’ tempi di Papa Urbano Ottavo nel 1642. Scritte da Gio. Baglione Romano e dedicate all’Eminentissimo, e Reverendissimo principe Girolamo Card. Colonna, 1642.
D. E. Colnaghi, A Dictionary of Florentine Painters from the 13th o the 17th Centuries by Sir Dominic Ellis Colnaghi, k. B., Late H. M. Consul-General at Florence, eds. P. G. Monody and Selwyn Brinton, London, John Lane The Bodley Head Ltd., 1928.
Posted by Samantha Hughes-Johnson.