SalviatiHis name was Francesco (or Cecchino) de’ Rossi; he called himself ‘Il Salviati’ after Cardinal Giovanni Salviati, an early patron. He was born in Florence in 1510, the son of a weaver or tailor of velvets. He had no lasting apprenticeship. After some initial training as a goldsmith with a cousin and an uncle, he passed fairly quickly through the workshops of the painter Giuliano Bugiardini, the sculptor Baccio Bandinelli and the painters Raffaello da Brescia and Andrea del Sarto. He was the exact contemporary and lifelong friend of Vasari, who claims that, as youths, they together salvaged the left arm of Michelangelo’s David, broken by rioters in 1527. Vasari’s exceptionally full biography emphasizes the difficulties Salviati created for himself through his irascible behaviour. He was ‘by nature melancholy, sober, sickly and niggardly … irresolute, suspicious and solitary’, frequently quarrelled with his patrons and fellow artists, and was restless and peripatetic.
In late 1531 he moved to Rome, where he painted scenes from the Life of John the Baptist in the chapel of the Palazzo Salviati. These are lost, as are his frescoes in the church of Santa Maria della Pace and those on the façade of Bindo Altoviti’s palazzo. Works surviving from his first Roman period include a panel painting of the Annunciation (about 1532-35) in the church of San Francesco a Ripa and a fresco of the Visitation (dated 1538) in the church of San Giovanni Decollato. In 1539 Salviati returned very briefly to Florence, where he worked with Vasari and others on the decorations for the marriage of Eleonora of Toledo and Duke Cosimo de’ Medici, who had seized power two years earlier. Before the year was out, he had accepted an invitation from Cardinal Giovanni Grimani to go to Venice, where he worked on decorations in the Palazzo Grimani (which still partly survive) and painted a Deposition for the nuns of Corpus Domini (now in the church of the Madonna del Rosario at Viggiù, near Milan). An altarpiece painted at this time for Santa Cristina in Bologna is still there. In 1541 he was back in Rome. He was briefly painter to Pierluigi Farnese, but his relationship with his patron proved so stormy that he was arrested.
In winter 1543 he returned again to Florence, where he secured the patronage of Duke Cosimo. The Camillus frescoes in the Sala dell’Udienza of the Palazzo Vecchio are a masterpiece of High Mannerism and established Salviati’s reputation as one of the leading decorators of the time. He also decorated the ceiling of the Duke’s dining hall (now lost), designed tapestries, stage sets and miscellaneous objets d’art, and painted portraits of the Duke’s children. There were commissions, also, from several other Florentine families, including the Corsi, Landi, Acciaiuolo, Guadagni and Dini.
By autumn 1548, after an acrimonious dispute with Duke Cosimo over money, Salviati had moved back to Rome, where the competition for commissions had been reduced by the deaths the previous year of Sebastiano del Piombo and Perino del Vaga. During his second Roman period, he painted in the Palazzo della Cancelleria, the Farnese Palace and the Palazzo Sacchetti. The David frescoes of around 1552-4 in the salone of the Palazzo Sacchetti are among his most Mannerist works. Salviati was invited to France on several occasions, but did not go until early 1556. He was not popular there, fell out with Francesco Primaticcio, who was already established at the French court, and stayed barely two years. His frescoes for Charles de Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine, in the château at Dampierre, near Paris, were ill received and are now lost. On his return to Rome, he worked again in the Farnese Palace. His last major commission was to paint in the Sala Regia of the Vatican Palace. After quarrelling with other artists engaged in the project, he painted only one fresco, and even that was finished by his pupil Giuseppe Porta. He died on 11 November 1563 in Rome and was buried in the church of San Girolamo della Carità.
Salviati’s earliest Roman paintings have more in common with the works of Raphael’s immediate followers, like Perino del Vaga and Polidoro da Caravaggio, than those of Andrea del Sarto or his other Florentine masters. He was also influenced by Michelangelo, Rosso Fiorentino and Parmigianino, and later gathered ideas from his travels to Venice and northern Italy. Out of this rich mix, he created, with virtuoso draughtsmanship and a consummate fresco technique, decorative cycles of great sophistication and originality. It is unfortunate that, of the major cycles, only the one in the Sala dell’Udienza of the Palazzo Vecchio is easily accessible. Salviati’s panel paintings are not very numerous and are poorly represented in major museums outside Italy. His portraits are among the finest of these, but have often been confused with those of other artists, including Bronzino and Sebastiano del Piombo. He also produced designs for prints and book illustrations. He left numerous drawings, which display his superb Michelangelesque draughtsmanship and genius for working out imaginative and elegantly complex compositions.
Baltimore. Walters Art Museum.
Portrait of a Young Man. Canvas, 41 in dia.
This small circular canvas, showing just the head and upper shoulders, has probably been cut from a larger composition. Acquired by Henry Walters in 1902 with the vast collection amassed in Rome by Don Marcello Massarenti.
Bologna. Santa Cristina della Fondazza.
Madonna and Child with Saints. Canvas, 205 x 148.
The Virgin and Child are enthroned between Saints Cristina of Bolsena and John the Baptist (left) and Philip and Nicholas of Bari (right). St Romuald of Ravenna and the Blessed Lucia da Settefonti kneel in the foreground. The broken chains at the feet of the Blessed Lucia, who was abbess of the monastery of Santa Cristina, refer to the miraculous liberation of a young knight, who had invoked her help when a prisoner of the Saracens. Vasari says that this altarpiece was painted by Salviati during his visit to Venice (1539-41) and was commissioned for the Camaldoli nuns of Santa Cristina by their confessor, Don Giovanni Francesco da Bagno. The picture shows strongly the influence of Parmigianino (to whom a preparatory drawing for it at Linz was once attributed). The Virgin is especially like the Madonna of the Rose at Dresden.
Charlotte (North Carolina). Mint Museum of Art.
Portrait of a Man. Wood, 109 x 83.
The heavily bearded man, soberly dressed in black, holds a pair of gloves in his right hand and leans on a ledge decorated with a satyr relief. Attributed to Salviati as a work of the 1540s. Acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1939 from Contini Bonacossi and donated to the Mint Museum in 1946.
Totila the King of the Goths. Canvas, 94 x 66.
The picture was originally part of Paolo Giovio’s famous collection of portraits at Borgovico on Lake Como. It was given to the museum in 1966 by Luigi Rovelli. The attribution is comparatively recent and based on comparisons with figures in Salviati’s frescoes (Roberto Bartolini in Prospettiva (1998)). There were old attributions to Bronzino and to Vasari’s circle.
Dublin. National Gallery of Ireland.
Holy Family. Wood, 117 x 155.
Previously given to the ‘School of Fra Bartolomeo’ or ‘Studio of Mariotto Albertinelli’. The attribution to Salviati, as a very early work preceding the artist’s move to Rome in 1531, was made initially by Philip Pouncey and supported in print by Sydney Freedberg in an article in the November 1985 Burlington Magazine. Bought in 1942 from the Arcade Gallery, London.
Charity. Wood, 156 x 122.
Salviati’s best-known panel painting. It is sometimes identified (though without definite evidence) with the Charity, which ‘could not be more beautiful’, mentioned by Vasari (1568) as painted for Ridolfo Landi, a dealer in precious stones. It might date from early in Salviati’s Florentine period (mid-1540s). The composition seems to have been developed from Michelangelo’s famous Tondo Doni of forty years earlier. Transferred to the Uffizi in 1778 from the Medici villa of Poggio Imperiale. Restored in 2002. There are many other versions, including variants attributed to Salviati himself in Munich (Alte Pinakothek) and Turin (Accademia Albertina). A much smaller version in the National Gallery, London, was once given to Salviati but is now ascribed to his Florentine contemporary Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio (Michele Tosini).
Christ carrying the Cross. Wood, 66 x 45.
This small, meticulously painted devotional panel may date from towards the end of Salviati’s Florentine period (1547-48). It was recorded without attribution in 1654 in the Medici villa of Poggio Imperiale, but was listed as a work of Salviati in 1695 when in the Medici Guardaroba. Transferred to the Uffizi in 1862; since 1923 it has been exhibited in the Tribuna.
Adoration of Shepherds. Wood, 85 x 108.
Engraved in 1778 as a work of Jacopo Bassano, and later given to the North Italian Mannerist Lelio Orsi. The attribution to Francesco Salviati was made by the German art historian Hermann Voss in 1920 (Die Malerei der Spätrenaissance). There were subsequent attributions to Girolamo da Carpi (Salvini) and Perino del Vaga (Longhi), but the Salviati attribution was maintained in the catalogue of the 1998 Salviati exhibition at Rome and Paris. Restored in 1997.
Resurrection. Tapestry, 220 x 217.
The composition is closely related to Salviati's fresco in the church of Santa Maria dell'Anima at Rome. The elaborate border incorporates scenes from the Old Testament (Moses and the Burning Bush, the Sacrifice of Isaac, Building of Noah's Ark, Cain and Abel, the Brazen Serpent and Jonah and the Whale). Woven at Florence, by the Flemish weaver Nicolas Karcher after a design by Salviati, for Benedetto Accolti, Cardinal of Ravenna. It probably dates from around 1545. Accolti coats-of-arms in the bottom corners were covered by the Medici arms in 1560, when the tapestry was moved to the Pitti Palace. Transferred to the Uffizi in 1928. Restored in 1993-97.
Lamentation over the Dead Christ. Tapestry, 194 x 194.
The dead Christ is supported by Joseph of Arimathea (or Nicodemus) and mourned by the Virgin and Magdalen. Woven by Karcher from Salviati’s design. Delivered on 31 July 1546, it was the first of the tapestries designed by Salviati for Duke Cosimo. The Medici arms are quartered with those of Toledo in the border, which also incorporates symbols of the Passion and Cosimo's Zodiac sign (Capricorn). The tapestry was probably intended to decorate one of the chapels of the Palazzo Vecchio. Transferred to the Uffizi in 1987. Restored in 1993-97. There are two earlier paintings by Salviati with the same composition. One was painted for the church of Corpus Domini in Venice and is now in the Brera. The other, probably painted for Duke Cosimo, is in the Pitti Palace.
Lamentation over the Dead Christ. Wood, 77 x 55.
This panel may date from early in Salviati’s Florentine period (1543-45). It is first recorded in 1591 in the Palazzo Ricasoli at Florence and entered the Pitti Palace in 1828 with an attribution to Girolamo da Carpi. The attribution to Salviati was made in 1920 (by Hermann Voss) and has been generally accepted since. The design was reused for the tapestry woven for Cosimo de’ Medici (now in the Uffizi).
Portrait of Giovanni de’ Medici(?). Wood, 24 x 19.
This tiny portrait of a plump little boy with a bow and quiver of arrows was traditionally ascribed to Bronzino. The attribution to Salvaiti was made in 1920 (by Voss). It was accepted – but with a query – in the 2003 gallery catalogue. Vasari says that Salviati painted portraits of Duke Cosimo’s children.
The Three Fates. Wood, 83 x 62.
The Three Fates (Parche) of Roman myth were Nona (who spun the thread of life), Decima (who measured the thread) and Morta (who cut it). This strange picture, painted in very pale colours, was once in the collection of Alesso Rimbotti of Florence, where it is mentioned in a letter of 1665 as a work of Michelangelo. By 1713 it had been acquired by Gran Principe Ferdinando de’ Medici. It retained the Michelangelo attribution until the end of the eighteenth century. In modern times, there have been attributions to Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, Jacopino del Conte and Salviati. The Salviati attribution was accepted by the catalogue of the 1998 Salviati exhibition at Rome and Paris and by the 2003 gallery catalogue.
Portrait of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere in Armour. Wood, 65 x 45.
Lodovico de' Medici, called Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, was the son of Caterina Sforza, husband of Maria Salviati and father of Cosimo I de' Medici. A famous condottiere, he died in 1526, at the age of only twenty-eight, after being hit by a cannonball during a skirmish near Mantua. Salviati's portrait was painted in 1546-48 from a death mask. The death mask had been made by Giulio Romano, court artist at Mantua, and given by Pietro Aretino to Titian in the expectation that Duke Cosimo would welcome a portrait of his father by the Venetian painter. When nothing came of Titian's portrait, Aretino sent the death mask in 1545 to Florence, where it served as a model for several painted portraits and marble busts. Salviati's portrait was called 'bellisima' by Vasari, who saw it in the ducal Guardaroba of the Palazzo Vecchio. Long considered lost, it was rediscovered in 1980 in the storerooms of the Pitti Palace. It was in a poor state – dirty and with numerous paint losses – and had been assumed to be one of the many copies of Bronzino's Portrait of Duke Cosimo in Armour. Restored in 2010.
Madonna and Child with the Infant St John and an Angel. Wood, 104 x 82.
Related in composition to the famous Charity in the Uffizi and even closer to the Charity in Munich (which was probably painted from the same cartoon). It has been sometimes suggested that the Accademia picture was painted originally as a Charity and transformed later into a Madonna and Child with St John and an Angel by adding the haloes, angel's wings and St John's cross and scroll. However, the suspected additions appear to have been painted in the same materials as the rest of the picture. Possibly the picture of 'Our Lady' that was painted by Salviati for his friend Cristofano di Stoldo Rinieri and which, in Vasari's day, hung in the audience hall of the Decima. Transferred to the Accademia from the Uffizi in 1983. Restoration in 2003 recovered some of the original luminosity of colour, but also exposed the damage done by earlier attempts at cleaning.
Florence. Palazzo Vecchio.
Scenes from the Story of Camillus. Frescoes.
The decoration of the large room, the audience chamber of Duke Cosimo, was Salviati’s most important Florentine commission, which he received after his return from Rome in 1543. Payments for the work continued until 1545. The scenes from the story of the Roman hero Marcus Furlus Camillus draw on descriptions in Livy and Plutarch and on ancient Roman reliefs. Salviati’s brief visit to Mantua, made on his return from Venice to Rome, also provided ideas: there he would have seen Mantegna’s Triumph of Caesar and Giulio Romano’s bombastic decorative cycles in the Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo Te.
There are two large scenes on the long east wall. That to the left of the central door shows the triumphal procession after Camillus’s conquest of the Etruscan city of Veii. The procession is led by lictors bearing fasces. Camillus brings up the rear, riding in a chariot drawn by white horses (recalling those on the Arch of Titus) and crowned by Fame. Vasari says that one of the soldiers behind the chariot is a self-portrait. There is a pen-and-ink drawing for the fresco in the British Museum. The scene to the right of the door shows the Gauls besieging Rome. The Roman Senate had tried to buy off the Gauls with gold, but Camillus arrives in time to quash the deal and get the tribute taken away. Over the door, painted in grisaille like a monumental sculpture, is an allegorical figure of Peace with bound prisoners at her feet. She puts a torch to a pile of weapons.
There are two more scenes on the chapel wall. On the left, the Gauls are routed by Camillus and their camp is burnt. On the right, the schoolmaster of Falerii, who had treacherously led the children in his charge into the Roman camp, is repudiated by Camillus and beaten by the students he had tried to betray.
The frescoes are a political allegory, each scene from the story of Camillus alluding to an event in Cosimo’s own life. Camillus’s triumph over the Veii is seen as the counterpart to Cosimo’s victory over his enemies at Montemurlo in 1537 (a portrait of Cosimo seems to be implied in the figure of Camillus), while the defeat of the Gauls is presumably intended as a reference to Cosimo’s rejection of French support.
A major restoration of the room was carried out in 1965 and a partial one in 2007.
Sala dei Dugento.
Dream of Pharaoh. Tapestry, 573 x 447.
Joseph interprets the Pharaoh’s dream of seven years of plenty and seven of famine. The figure witnessing their discussion appears to be a portrait of Michelangelo. One of a series of twenty tapestries (the others were designed by Pontormo and Bronzino) illustrating the Story of Joseph. They were woven at Florence by Nicolas Karcher and Jan Rost between 1546 and 1553 for the Sala dei Dugento, where they were placed in front of the windows and doors. Salviati's design was made in 1548, just before his return to Rome, and was singled out for particular praise by Vasari. The twenty tapestries are now divided equally between the Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome. After the completion of a thirty-year restoration programme, all twenty tapestries were temporarily displayed together in exhibitions held in 2015 in Rome (Palazzo del Quirinale), Milan (Palazzo Reale) and Florence (Palazzo Vecchio).
Scrittoio di Eleonora.
This tiny study or writing room is off the large central Camera Verde in the Quartiere di Eleonora. The ceiling is decorated with grotesques and small mythological scenes inspired by ancient Roman paintings. The work was probably done around 1545-48, after the completion of the frescoes in the Sala dell’Udienza.
Florence. Santa Croce. Museo dell’Opera.
Descent from the Cross. Wood, 445 x 295.
Arguably Salviati’s finest altarpiece. It was commissioned around 1547-48 by Giovanni and Piero Dini for the altar of their father Agostino’s chapel, which was on the inner façade of the church to the left of the entrance. Bronzino’s Descent into Limbo (also now in the museum) was painted for the opposite chapel. Vasari praises the ‘extremely beautiful’ nude figure of Christ, but says that the picture was criticised by Salviati’s opponents. Damaged during the 1966 flood, it was for many years in storage and took more than five years to restore. It has been exhibited again since 2006. Restoration has recovered the pale, brilliant, unreal colour. The frame is original.
Honolulu. Museum of Art.
Portrait of a Young Man. Wood, 59 x 46.
Bust of a thoughtful young man, short curly hair and beard, plainly dressed apart from an embroidered shirt collar. It might date from around 1550. Once in the collection of Conte Ferroni of Florence, it was acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1935 from Contini Bonacossi and allotted to the Honolulu Academy in 1961.
London. Royal Collection.
Virgin and Child with Angel. Wood, 112 x 84.
The angel, with a sword scrap over his shoulder, might be St Michael. He looks down on the sleeping Christ Child through a transparent veil. This brilliantly coloured picture is first recorded in 1818 (in the Dining Room at Kensington Palace) with an attribution to the late Mannerist painter Lorenzo Sabbatini. There were subsequent attributions to Maso di San Friano, Sebastiano del Piombo and Taddeo Zuccaro. The attribution to Salviati was published in 1963 (by John Gere in the Burlington Magazine). The picture is probably a comparatively early work, painted in Rome in the late 1530s. The right edge has been damaged by worm and has been repaired. Another version, with a landscape background, was acquired by the National Gallery of Canada at Ottawa in 2005.
Los Angeles. Getty Museum.
Portrait of a Man. Wood, 109 x 86.
The heavily bearded man is shown against a green velvet curtain. He is richly dressed in a black silk tunic with purple sleeves and holds a letter in his left hand. This fine, meticulously executed portrait is first recorded in 1904 in the collection of the Marchese Carlo Niccolini di Camugliano of Florence. It was in London by the 1950s and was acquired by the Getty in 1986. The Florentine provenance suggests a date of 1543-48.
Holy Family with an Angel. Wood, 114 x 99.
Possibly the painting ‘of Our Lady with Christ and St John as little children, who are laughing at a parrot they are fondling’ mentioned by Vasari as painted in Florence for Pasquino Bertini. However, that painting was ‘little’ and ‘on canvas’, while the Prado picture is neither. First certainly recorded in 1746 in an inventory of the collection of Elisabetta Farnese, consort of Philip V, at the palace of La Granja. The figure of Joseph, sleeping on a rock at the left edge, was uncovered during restoration in 1992-95.
Deposition. Canvas, 322 x 193.
An angel hovers overhead holding instruments of the Passion. According to Francesco Sansovino (1581), the picture was commissioned by Bernardo Moro, a Procuratore de Ultra of St Mark's, for the Dominican nuns of Corpus Domini in Venice. It was probably painted in 1540. The execution has sometimes been ascribed in part to Salviati's young pupil Giuseppe Porta (also called Salviati), who accompanied his master to Venice and settled there. After the church of Corpus Domini (which was near the current railway station) was destroyed in 1810, the picture was consigned to the Brera. It was deposited in 1813 with the church of the Beata Vergine Rosario at Viggiù (some 50 km northeast of Milan). Long assumed lost, it was rediscovered and published in 1962 (by Molino Jaderosa in Arte Veneta).
Milan. Poldi Pezzoli.
Portrait of a Young Man. Wood, 58 x 47.
The unknown youth is soberly but elegantly dressed in a black tunic, slashed in the sleeves where the red lining shows through, and an embroidered lace collar. The portrait was ascribed to Domenico Puligo in the first, 1881, catalogue of the museum and to the School of Andrea del Sarto in the 1911 catalogue. The attribution to Francesco Salviati was made in 1916-18 by Giovanni Poggi (in Rivista d’Arte). The portrait may date from Salviati’s Florentine period (1543-48).
Montpellier. Musée Fabre.
Portrait of a Sculptor. Slate, 68 x 51.
The statuette he holds of a male nude is thought to be a cast after a work by Michelangelo (possibly of a modello for a bronze). There is a black chalk drawing, attributed to Salviati, of the statuette in the Louvre. The portrait is recorded in 1828 in the collection of François –Xavier Fabre as a work of Sebastiano del Piombo, who often painted on slate. This attribution was retained into the twentieth century and then replaced by one to Bronzino. The attribution to Salviati seems to have been considered by Bernard Berenson many years ago, but appears to have been published first by Michael Hirst in the catalogue of the 1998 Rome-Paris exhibition.
Munich. Alte Pinakothek.
Charity. Wood, 143 x 115.
A fine variant, in which the composition is largely reversed, of the famous picture in the Uffizi. Probably painted in Florence around the mid-1540s from the same cartoon as the Madonna and Child with St John and an Angel in the Accademia. Either the Uffizi picture or Munich variant could be the Charity that Vasari says was painted for the jeweller Ridolfo Landi and 'could not be more beautiful'. Formerly in the Palazzo Corsini at Florence. On loan to the museum from the German Federal Government.
Portrait of Man. Wood, 76 x 59.
He is shown almost in profile with his hand on the hilt of his sword. From the Farnese collection. The portrait may date from the 1540s. The attribution to Salviati was made by Johann David Passavant in his 1860 monograph on Raphael; before then, Salviati had been hardly recognised as a portraitist.
Sacrifice of Alexander the Great. Tapestry, 385 x 315.
The tapestry is first recorded in 1587 in Parma, where it served as the dossal of a throne-apparate of Ottavio Farnese. It is sometimes thought to have been one of the set of tapestries, representing the deeds of Alexander the Great, that Vasari mentions as woven in Flanders from Salviati’s cartoons for Ottavio’s father, Pier Luigi Farnese. In this case, Salviati’s design would date from around 1538, when Pier Luigi became Duke of Nepi. An alternative view is that the tapestry was woven around 1550 as a single piece for Ottavio.
Naples. San Giovanni Maggiore.
This very damaged picture is a comparatively recent discovery (‘published’ in 1960 by M. Picone in Arte Antica e Moderna). It was probably commissioned by the Cambi family of Florence, and is probably one of Salviati’s last works, painted after his return from France in 1558. The church, closed for many years for restoration, was reopened in January 2012.
New York. Metropolitan Museum.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 123 x 93.
The burly young man, red headed and bearded, is richly dressed in a black silk doublet and white silk sleeves. He holds a white handkerchief in his right hand and a pair of gloves in his left hand, with his left thumb hooked through the guard of his sword. This striking portrait is unrecorded before the early twentieth century, when it was in the collection of a John Edward Taylor of London. It was published as a work of Salviati in the Connoisseur magazine for February-March 1940, when it was in the hands of a New York dealer. Doubts have occasionally been voiced, but the attribution has usually been accepted. There has been little agreement on dating, critics variously suggesting it was painted in Mantua (1541), Florence (1543-48) and Rome (after 1548). Donated to the museum in 1955 by Mr and Mrs Nate B. Spingold of New York.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 96 x 75.
Dressed in a black tunic trimmed with fur; gloves in his right hand and thumb hooked in his belt; left hand on his hip. Bequeathed to the museum in 1944 by Helen Hay Whitney, widow of the wealthy Long Island businessman William Payne Whitney. The picture (which is very worn and was rarely on display) has been sold recently by the museum in aid of its acquisition fund. (It was auctioned for $46, 875 at Sotheby's, New York, in January 2013.)
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada.
Virgin and Child with an Angel. Wood, 112 x 83.
Another version of the picture in the British Royal Collection. Both versions are identical in size and were presumably painted from the same cartoon, but the one in the Royal Collection has a plain background and the one at Ottawa a landscape. There is a copy of the Ottawa version in the Ducal Palace at Urbino.
Acquired by the museum in 2005 for $400,000 from a British private collection. Well preserved.
Incredulity of St Thomas. Canvas (transferred from panel), 275 x 234.
The subject, rare in Italian Renaissance painting, is from John: xx, 24-29. The apostle, 'Doubting Thomas', refuses to acknowledge the Resurrection of Christ, saying: 'Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.' Signed under St Thomas’s right foot. As mentioned by Vasari, this picture was painted for Tommaso Guadagni, a rich Florentine merchant active in France, who hung it in his funerary chapel in the church of the Jacobins (Notre-Dame de Confort) at Lyon. It was commissioned on 6 November 1544 and final payment was made on 9 December 1545. The fee was 200 écus. Taken to the Louvre in 1794 and transferred from panel to canvas in 1806. There is another version, sometimes ascribed to Vasari but probably by Salviati’s workshop, in the church of San Giovanni Decollato at Rome. Salviati also reused essentially the same composition for his fresco of The Ghost of Samuel appearing to King Saul in the Palazzo Ricci-Sacchetti. A pen-and-wash modello for the picture is in the Louvre.
Paris. Musée Jacquemart-André.
Portrait of a Lutist. Wood, 86 x 77.
This charming portrait was acquired by Edouard André in 1889 from the famous Florentine antiquarian and dealer Stefano Bardini. It has been attributed to a remarkable number of major and minor painters, including Pontormo, Jacopo del Conte, Lorenzo Zacchia, Antonio Lappoli, Mirobello Cavalori and Francesco Traballesi. The Salviati attribution was first suggested by Jean Alazard in his 1924 book on Le Portrait Florentin. There is a superb red chalk study for the head of the sitter in the Louvre, and the quality of the drawing provides one of the strongest arguments for the authenticity of the painting. The portrait was included as an autograph work in the 1998 Salviati exhibition at Rome and Florence. However, David Jaffé (in a review of the exhibition in the Burlington Magazine) described the attribution as ‘hardly tenable’. It has been suggested that the young lutist could be the French musician and composer Jacques (or Jacquet) du Pont, who enjoyed the patronage in Rome of Cardinal Giovanni Salviati.
Coronation of the Virgin. Canvas, 177 x 140.
Angels draw the curtains of a baldacchino to reveal the Virgin, who extends her right hand in blessing. She rises on a bank of cloud decorated with cherubs’ heads and is crowned by two winged putti. Painted around 1550 for the Roman church of San Lorenzo in Damaso (now built into the Palazzo della Cancelleria), where it is inaccurately described by Vasari as ‘two angels in fresco holding a veil’.
Meeting of Alexander III and Frederick Barbarossa. Fresco.
The room (the ‘Hall of Kings’) was used for the reception of princes and ambassadors. The decoration was started by Daniele da Volterra but, after Pius IV became Pope, Salviati gained a share in the project. Work was interrupted when Salviati quarrelled with Daniele and returned briefly to Florence. He painted only this one huge scene. He died when it was half finished, and it was completed by his pupil Giuseppe Porta (Giuseppe Salviati). The rest of the cycle, illustrating great events in the history of the Church, was executed by Vasari and Taddeo Zuccaro. There is no admission to the Sala Regia, but the sumptuous room can sometimes be seen through the main door of the Sistine Chapel.
Rome. Galleria Colonna.
Raising of Lazarus. Wood, 89 x 66.
Mary Magdalene kneels in the foreground (her pose evidently taken from Raphael’s Transfiguration) and her sister Martha kneels behind Christ. The women in profile in the right background holding their noses (as Lazarus ‘stinketh: for he has been dead for four days’) also appear in Sebastiano del Piombo’s famous Raising of Lazarus (National Gallery, London), while the pose of the young man on the left, with arms round the neck of an older man, has been adapted from Michelangelo’s Libyan Sibyl in the Sistine Chapel. The picture was painted in Florence around the mid-1540s for Alamanno Salviati, Cardinal Giovanni’s brother, whose portrait is probably included among the spectators (the bearded man centre right). Recorded in 1583 at the Palazzo Portinari-Salviati at Florence. It entered the Colonna collection in 1718 with the marriage of Caterina Zefferina Salviati and Fabrizio Colonna. By the late eighteenth century it had acquired an attribution to Parmigianino.
Adam and Eve. Canvas, 230 x 181.
Usually identified with the picture of this subject mentioned by Vasari, which was painted in Rome for Alamanno Salviati and sent to Florence in 1553. Salviati used the same composition in his almost contemporary wall painting in the Chigi Chapel of Santa Maria del Popolo.
Portrait of a Man with a Cameo. Canvas, 106 x 82.
The bearded, middle-aged man is shown three-quarter length, looking thoughtfully to his right and holding up a cameo with a woman’s profile in his right hand. Once called a self-portrait. Probably a mature Roman work (1550s).
Rome. Palazzo della Cancelleria.
Cappella del Pallio. Nativity; Frescoed decoration.
The chapel was decorated for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (grandson of Pope Paul III). The programme was probably devised by the humanist Annibale Caro, who recommended Salviati to Cardinal Salviati. The work was started after Salviati’s return to Rome from Florence in autumn 1548 and completed by May 1549.
The altarpiece of the Nativity, painted in oil on stone, is now in poor condition. It contains a donor portrait of Alessandro Farnese and a portrait of Paul III as Joseph. It is surmounted by a frescoed lunette of the Annunciation. The niche in which the altar is set is decorated with small panels of God the Father, the Church Fathers and Evangelists.
The frescoed scenes are embedded in a sumptuous framework of panelling and stucco. The combination of subjects is unusual. The Beheading of the Baptist is represented on the left wall, with the Meeting of Janus and Saturn in the lunette above. The Martyrdom of St Lawrence is on the right wall, with the Destruction of Pagan Temples depicted in the lunette. The Conversion of St Paul is on the entrance wall, flanked by figures of David and Jonah in stucco tabernacles. The subjects on the vault are from the Old Testament: Aaron before the Tabernacle; the Destruction of Pagan Temples and Idols; and two prophecies from Isaiah (the swords beaten into ploughshares and the wolf lying down with the lamb).
Salviati probably left the modelling of the stuccoes and the execution of the lunette frescoes to assistants.
Rome. Palazzo Farnese. Sala del Fasti Farnesiani.
The room was decorated for Ranuccio Farnese, the son of Pier Luigi Farnese and grandson of Pope Paul III. The frescoes celebrate the achievements of the Farnese family. In the centre of one of the long walls, Paul III is shown enthroned between allegorical figures of Peace and Religion. The scene on the left represents the Peace of Nice, with Charles V and Francis I, dressed as Romans, shaking hands. On the right, Ottavio and Alessandro Farnese are shown with Charles V as they prepare to wage war on the Protestant Schmalkaldie League; on the far right Fame sounds her trumpet. In the centre of the opposite wall, Ranuccio the Elder is represented in the guise of a Roman military hero (Aeneas, the founder of Rome?). The seated figure resembles Michelangelo’s sculpture of Giuliano de’ Medici on the tomb at San Lorenzo. The scene on the left shows Ranuccio receiving the baton of command from Pope Eugenius IV. The man bearing the banner on the left may be a portrait of Pier Luigi Farnese (and the two ecclesiastics in front of him seem to represent the same man). The scene on the right shows Pietro Farnese leading the Florentines to victory over the Pisans. The frescoes are late works, though Vasari says they were started before Salviati’s departure to France (which Vasari puts in 1554 but is now thought to have been in early 1556). The work may have been resumed after Salviati returned to Rome in early 1558, but was left unfinished at his death in November 1563. It was completed after his death by Taddeo Zuccaro, who painted the entrance wall and the battle scene over the central window.
Admission to the palazzo (now the French Embassy) is only by appointment.
Rome. Palazzo Ricci-Sacchetti. Gran Salone.
Scenes from the Life of David. Frescoes.
Salviati decorated the room around 1552-4 for Cardinal Giovanni Ricci da Montepulciano, who had acquired the palazzo from the Farnese. (Ricci’s emblem, the hedgehog, appears in some of the smaller scenes.) The frescoes, described by Vasari as ‘full of grace, of superb ideas, and of very capricious and ingenious invention’, are generally regarded as among Salviati’s finest works. The palazzo, which has belonged to the Sacchetti family since 1648, is not open to the public.
Rome. San Francesco a Ripa. 2nd chapel left of entrance.
Annunciation. Wood, 235 x 139.
One of Salviati’s earliest surviving works, painted (Vasari implies) in or before 1535, It was commissioned as the altarpiece of the funerary chapel of Mariano Castellani (of a noble family of Trastevere) and Bernardina de’ Rustici (who was originally Tuscan) and is still in situ. It shows the influence of Raphael and his immediate followers (such as Perino del Vaga and Polidoro da Caravaggio). Restored in 1997.
Rome. San Giovanni Decollato. Oratory.
Visitation; Birth of the Baptist. Frescoes.
Salviati contributed two of the eight scenes from the Life of the Baptist. The Visitation was painted in 1538. It is thought to include portraits (in the left foreground) of Giovanni da Cepperello and Battista da Sangallo, members of the pious Florentine confraternity that commissioned the decoration. The Birth of the Baptist (which Vasari says is not as good) was painted thirteen years later in 1551. Other scenes are by Jacopino del Conte, Pirro Ligorio and Battista Franco.
Salviati also painted the figures of Saint Andrew and Saint Bartholomew flanking the Deposition by Jacopino del Conte over the high altar. The Doubting Thomas, over the second altar on the right of the church, is a replica, probably by Salviati’s workshop, of the painting in the Louvre.
Rome. San Marcello al Corso (3rd chapel on right).
Life of the Virgin. Frescoes.
The frescoes illustrate the Virgin’s Life in five small scenes (the Annunciation; Coronation; Funeral; Nativity; and Presentation) around a fourteenth-century image of the Madonna and Child. They were painted for Cardinal Matteo Grifoni, Bishop of Trivento, around1562-63, shortly before Salviati’s death.
Rome. Santa Maria dell’Anima. Markrafen Chapel.
Pietà and Frescoes.
The tall, narrow, rather dark chapel (the 4th on the north side) was built in 1515 by Cardinal Johann Albrecht of Brandenburg, Bishop of Halberstadt and Archbishop of Magdeburg. Nothing was done immediately about the decoration of the chapel. Then, in October 1517, Martin Luther wrote to the Cardinal protesting against the sale of indulgences and enclosing his famous Theses. The momentous events that followed must have contributed to the further very long delay. Salviati seems to have started work in the chapel after his return from Venice in 1541. But when he left Rome for Florence in 1543, he appears to have completed only the Pentecost in the vault and barely started the Resurrection below. The work was resumed when Salviati returned to Rome in 1548 and was finally completed by August 1550. The large altarpiece, painted in oil on the wall surface, represents a Pietà. The dead Christ, in a contorted pose, is supported by an angel, with the grieving Virgin and Joseph of Arimathea on the left and the kneeling donor on the right. The altarpiece is flanked by curved walls. St Stephen (the patron saint of Halberstadt Cathedral) is depicted in a niche on the right wall and St Mauritius (patron saint of Magdeburg Cathedral) in a niche on the left wall. Beneath these figures are representations of Cardinal Johann Albrecht’s name saints: St John the Almsgiver, flanked by Charity, gives alms to a naked beggar and St Albert the Carmelite, flanked by allegorical figures of female vanity and purity, holds a crucifix between two lilies. At the bottom of the side walls are lifelike portraits in roundels: these may represent Quirinus Galler and Lemmeken, who supervised the completion of the decoration. The frescoes are much damaged and restored.
Rome. Santa Maria del Popolo. Chigi Chapel.
Creation and Fall; Four Seasons. Frescoes.
The mortuary chapel of the immensely wealthy Sienese banker Agostino Chigi (2nd on the left of the nave) was designed and partly decorated by Raphael, who prepared cartoons for the dome mosaics (1516). Work came to a halt after both Raphael and Chigi died in 1520. In 1530, Sebastiano del Piombo was contracted to paint the altarpiece of the Birth of the Virgin and paint the scenes from Genesis between the windows of the drum and the medallions of the Seasons below in the pendentives. When Sebastiano died in 1547, the enormous altarpiece on marble was still unfinished and the rest of the decoration had not been begun. Around 1552-54, Salviati completed the altarpiece and painted the murals. The eight Genesis scenes, painted in oil on plaster, represent: the Separation of Light from Darkness; Creation of the Sun and Moon; Creation of the Earth; Creation of the Animals; Creation of Adam; Creation of Eve; the Fall; and the Expulsion from Paradise. The Four Seasons, represented by allegorical figures, are much damaged.
Rome. San Salvatore in Lauro.
Wedding at Cana. Fresco.
The fresco, on the end wall of the refectory of the former Augustinian convent, was painted in the early 1550s. Salviati’s other paintings mentioned by Vasari in the refectory – figures of Eugenius IV and saints at the sides of the Cana and a St George and the Dragon in oil over the door – have perished.
St Louis. Art Museum.
Portrait of a Man. Wood, 102 x 83.
He strikes a very mannered pose, with his right wrist on his hip and his raised left hand holding a pair of gloves. In the background, to the left of the green curtain, a naked man (Hercules?) reclines with a lion (the Marzocco?) and a naked female emerges from the centre of a huge flower. This strange scene has been thought to symbolise Florence. The picture has been called the 'quintessential Mannerist portrait' (Philippe Costamagna). Nothing is known of its provenance before 1943, when it was acquired by the museum from Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co. of New York. The attribution has fluctuated between Salviati and Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio.
Sarasota. Ringling Museum of Art.
Portrait of an Aristocratic Youth (Gian Battista Salviati?). Wood, 70 x 48.
He wears a doublet, with a red silk cloak draped over his right shoulder, and holds an ornate plumed helmet. The portrait was once attributed to Bronzino or Pontormo and was thought to represent one of the Medici children. The attribution to Salviati seems to have been published first in 1972 by Fredericksen and Zeri in their Census of Italian Paintings in North American Collections. The portrait has been identified with one listed at the end of the sixteenth century in the Palazzo Salviati at Florence, and it has been suggested that the young sitter could be Gian Battista Salviati, nephew of Cardinal Giovanni Salviati. The portrait was later in the Colonna and Rospigliosi collections in Rome. It was given to the museum in 1961 by Mr and Mrs E. Milo Green. There is a drawing, attributed to Salviati, of the helmet in the Louvre.
Toledo (Ohio). Museum of Art.
Holy Family with St John. Wood, 130 x 98.
Probably painted around 1540, when Salviati was much influenced by Parmigianino. The Madonna is very like the one in the altarpiece in the church of Santa Cristina della Fondazza at Bologna. Unrecorded before 1911, when it was in a private collection in Switzerland. Later in France, it was acquired by the museum in 1975 from a London gallery.
Tokyo. National Museum of Western Art.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas, 117 x 90.
The heavily bearded man, dressed in a black robe, stands behind a table covered with a patterned carpet and holds a small book in his right hand. Formerly in the famous Cook collection at Richmond, it was acquired by the Tokyo Museum in 1968. Berenson thought the picture was Venetian, attributing it to Veronese in his 1932 Lists and to Sebastiano del Piombo in his 1957 Lists. The attribution to Salviati was made in 1944 by Ridolfo Pallucchini in his Italian monograph on Sebastiano. The Venetian character of the portrait has been accounted for by the hypothesis that it was painted during the painter’s visit to the city in 1539-40. However, the attribution should be taken with reserve.
Turin. Accademia Albertina.
Charity. Wood, 87 x 60.
Bequeathed to the Accademia in 1828 with the collection of Archbishop Vincenzo Maria Mossi. Previously ascribed to Parmigianino or his school. Restored in 1997.
Venice. Palazzo Grimani.
In 1537 Cardinal Giovanni Grimani, Patriarch of Aquileia and nephew of Doge Antonio, invited Francesco Salviati and Giovanni da Udine to decorate rooms of his palazzo at Santa Maria Formosa. The two artists probably worked in the palazzo in 1540.
On the vault of the Stanza di Apollo, Salviati painted four scenes illustrating myths of Apollo: the Musical Contest between Apollo and Marsyas, the Plea of Olympus to Pardon Marsyas (or Apollo at the Oracle of Delphi), the Flaying of Marsyas and Apollo and a Dancing Maenad (Apollo teaching the Muse to Dance?). The scenes are contained in a circular stucco framework with a medallion in the centre representing Apollo steering the Chariot of the Sun. The stucco work was executed by Giovanni da Udine, who some twenty years earlier had decorated Cardinal Bibbiena’s Loggetta in the Vatican with somewhat similar scenes from the Marsyas myth. It is likely that the scenes were inspired by ancient murals, unearthed in Rome and now lost.
Another ceiling painting, representing the Homage to Psyche, was extravagantly praised by Vasari as the ‘finest painting in all Venice’. It was the central octagon in the Sala di Psiche and was surrounded by four canvases by Francesco Menzocchi. The canvases were taken down in 1784 and hung on the walls. They were long assumed lost, but have been rediscovered in a damaged state. The Homage to Psyche, which had a long vertical tear in the centre, was restored in Florence in 2003.
The Palazzo Grimani was purchased by the State in 1981 and reopened to the public in 2008 after extensive restoration.
Vienna. Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Portrait of a Man of the Santacroce Family. Wood, 98 x 67.
The statue in the background is the Patrizi Amazon, which in the first half of the sixteenth century was in the possession of Valerio Santacroce of Rome. The portrait is listed in the 1680 inventory of the collection of Cardinal Pietro Mellini at the Palazzo del Rosario, Rome. At the Vienna gallery since 1804.
Portrait of a Youth. Wood, 72 x 58.
He holds a letter inscribed with his age: seventeen years and six months. Recorded in 1663 at Ambras Castle in Innsbruck. At Vienna since 1773.
Cardinal Rodolfo Pio da Carpi. Canvas, 72 x 57.
Rodolfo Pio (1500-64) was a nephew of Alberto III, the last lord of Carpi. A Cardinal from 1536, he became a leading papal diplomat and member of the Roman Inquisition. He formed a great Greek and Latin library and an important collection of antiquities. The portrait, which was discovered in the gallery storerooms in 1882, was long regarded as a late work of Sebastiano del Piombo. The attribution to Salviati was made by Michael Hirst in his 1980 monograph on Sebastiano and is now accepted by the museum. Salviati could have painted the portrait in Rome in 1541-43.
Vienna. Liechtenstein Museum.
Portrait of a Young Man. Wood, 89 x 69.
He wears a cap on his head of curly hair and a black leather jerkin, with fashionable slashes in the front, over a red silk tunic. He strokes the neck of a fawn. From the Palazzo Torrigiani at Florence. Acquired by Prince Johannes II Liechtenstein (through Stefano Bardini) in 1894. Previously attributed to Bronzino. The attribution to Salviati was first suggested in 1928 (by Arthur Kilgore McComb in his monograph on Bronzino), but the Liechtenstein collection persisted with the Bronzino attribution until 1980.
Washington. National Gallery.
Portrait of a Lady. Wood, 67 x 52.
She wears a brown leather garment with fur collar, bright red silk sleeves and gold hair net, and holds between her fingers the heavy gold chain of a jewelled pendant. The portrait may be a comparatively late work, painted in Rome around the mid-1550s. Nothing is known of its the provenance before 1952, when it was given to the gallery by Samuel L. Fuller of New York. In 1969-76 it was on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts at St Petersburg, Florida.
Worcester (Mass.). Art Museum.
Portrait of a Man of the Albizzi (?) Family. Wood, 128 x 94.
The heavily bearded young man is shown seated, wearing a fur-lined and richly patterned red gown and holding a pair of gloves in his left hand. The picture was bought in 1835 by the Rev. John Stanford from the Albizzi family of Florence and was supposed to be the portrait, mentioned by Vasari, of Anton Francesco degli Albizzi by Sebastiano del Piombo. The attribution was later changed to Bronzino and then to Salviati. The Salviati attribution has been accepted by some writers but doubted by others. Robert B Simon has recently (2013) published an attribution to an anonymous follower of Bronzino (the 'Master of the Sedia Dantesca'). From 1844 to 1899 the portrait was in the Methuen collection at Corsham. It was acquired by the museum in 1913.