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. The attribution of a number of portraits is still disputed between Salviati and his little known Florentine contemporary Michele Tosini (also called Michele di Ridolfo after his master Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio). Salviati 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.
Alnwick Castle (Northumberland).
Portrait of a Man (Bindo Altoviti?). Wood, 90 x 79.
The bearded man, in late middle age, wears a chain with a papal insignia. The letter in his right hand is inscribed with the motto 'BENVIVERE ET LETARE' ('Live well and be Happy'). The portrait was acquired in Rome in 1854 by Algernon Percy, 4th Duke of Northumberland, with the celebrated Camuccini collection. It was previously ascribed to Rosso Fiorentino or to Sebastiano del Piombo. The attribution to Salviati was apparently first made by Michael Hirst (cited by David Franklin in his 1994 monograph on Rosso). It has had a somewhat mixed reception. The sitter was identified as the Florentine banker Bindo Altoviti by Philippe Costamagna (in the catalogue of the 1998 exhibition Francesco Salviati et la Bella Maniera). The identification – based on comparisons with portraits of Altoviti by Jacopino del Conte (Montreal) and Girolamo da Carpi or Salviati (Metropolitan Museum, New York) – seems quite convincing. According to Vasari, Salviati painted a portrait of Altoviti in 1534. However, to judge from the sitter's age, the Alnwick portrait must be some fifteen or twenty years later than this.
Anet (Northern France). Château d'Anet.
Portrait of a Lady as Diana the Hunter. Slate, 54 x 40.
This oval portrait, painted with clear bright colours on slate, shows a young woman in the guise of Diana, goddess of hunting. She has a quiver of arrows on her back and an animal pelt is draped over her shoulder. The portrait was traditionally assumed to represent Diane de Poitiers – the Château d'Anet was built for the famous royal mistress – and attributed to Francesco Primaticcio (court painter to Henri II). The identification of the sitter and the attribution were both recently challenged by Catherine Goguel (Revue de L'Art, June 2011). Goguel identified the sitter as a member of the aristocratic Du Perriers family (on the evidence of the coat-of-arms on the cameo hair pin) and attributed the portrait to Salviati (who is one of the few artists of the period known to have used stone supports). The reattribution has now been accepted by the château's owners. Salviati was in France in 1556-57.
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 (with an attribution to the 'School of Carracci') by Henry Walters in 1902 with the vast collection amassed in Rome by Don Marcello Massarenti. The attribution to Salviati was made by Federico Zeri in his 1976 catalogue of Italian paintings in the Walters Museum. The portrait could have been painted in Florence or Rome in the 1540s or 1550s.
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 (with an arrow protruding from her forehead) and John the Baptist, on the left, and Philip and Nicholas of Bari, on the right. St Romuald of Ravenna (in the white habit of of the Camaldolese Order he founded) 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 Camaldolese nuns of Santa Cristina by their confessor, Don Giovanni Francesco da Bagno. The picture, originally over the high altar; was moved to the chapel at the left of the entrance after the church was rebuilt at the beginning of the seventeenth century. It 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. The condition is poor, the face and background being largely repainted. Roberto Longhi (in an unpublished 1939 letter) suggested that the sitter could be Benedetto Varchi, the Florentine intellectual, historian and poet, who was a friend of Salviati.
Totila the King of the Goths. Canvas, 94 x 66.
The subject is given by an inscription in the bottom left corner. Totila, King of the Ostrogoths from 541 to 552, restored the Gothic kingdom in Italy until he was defeated and killed at the Battle of Taginae. He is depicted as a fierce red-bearded warrior king, wearing chainmail and a gold-plated breastplate and holding a heavy spear. 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.
The Christ Child takes a small crucifix from the infant Baptist, symbolising acceptance of his tragic destiny. The inclusion of the saddle, donkey and bundle suggests the subject is the Rest on the Flight into Egypt. The picture was 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. Restored in 2012.
*Charity. Wood, 156 x 122.
In Renaissance art, the theological virtue of Charity is often personified as a mother breastfeeding a child or children. Here, the mother is a refined classical beauty, with a breast exposed, surrounded by putti who cling to her in a variety of complex and carefully studied poses. The flame in the top right corner is an attribute of Charity. The bird in Charity's left hand is also presumably symbolic. The picture is 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 a Boy (Giovanni de’ Medici?). Wood, 24 x 19.
The plump little boy, a toddler of around three years old, wears a crimson velvet tunic and matching codpiece. He holds a recurve hunting bow in his left hand and a quiver of arrows is slung over his right shoulder. The tiny portrait was traditionally ascribed to Bronzino. The attribution to Salviati 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. If the portrait does indeed feature one of Cosimo's sons, Giovanni, the second eldest, is the likeliest candidate. He was born in 1543, was made a cardinal in 1560 and died of malaria in 1562. There is a nearly identical studio replica or old copy of the portrait (on canvas) in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, and a variant in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, in which the little boy wears a white embroidered suit with a cape.
*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. It was probably painted for Carlo Rimbotti, a medical doctor, who – like Salviati – was a member of the Accademia Fiorentina. (A portrait of Carlo Rimbotti by Salviati was acquired very recently by the Metropolitan Museum, New York.) By 1713 the picture had passed into the collection of 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 with numerous paint losses), and had been assumed to be one of the many copies of Bronzino's Portrait of Duke Cosimo in Armour – an understandable error as Giovanni dalle Bande Nere is shown wearing the same suit of armour as Duke Cosimo in Bronzino's famous portrait. 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. Horne Museum.
Portrait of Man (Self-Portrait?). Wood, 54 x 39.
A heavily bearded, middle-aged man, dressed in plain black with a soft hat, is shown three-quarter view against a green background. From the Palazzo Patrizi at Siena, and formerly ascribed to Sodoma. The attribution to Salviati was made by Carlo Gamba in his 1961 catalogue of the Horne Museum. The sitter bears a resemblance to known portraits of Salviati.
Florence. Santa Croce. Museo dell’Opera.
*Descent from the Cross. Wood, 445 x 295.
The Virgin, seated at the foot of the cross, is tended by the Three Marys. St John the Evangelist, to the right, holds up the winding cloth. 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. The two bearded men, dressed in classical garb, at the left edge may be portraits of the Dini patrons. The Dini Chapel 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.
When the Dini Chapel was demolished in 1883 (to make way for the monument to Giovan Battista Niccolini), the picture was moved to the refectory – by then a museum. It was severely damaged during the 1966 flood, when four-fifths of the surface was covered by dirty water for some eighteen hours. It was subsequently in storage for many years. Treatment, begun in 1990, involved reassembling the six vertical planks of the panel – which had become completely separated, with the paint broken along the joins. The picture has been exhibited again since 2006 (since 2014 in the Cappella Medici). The paint surface, unsurprisingly, is marked and scratched; but restoration has recovered the pale, brilliant, unreal colour. The frame is original and may have been designed by Salviati himself. It has been attributed to the workshop of the Florentine sculptor and architect Battista di Marco del Tasso.
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.
Knutsford (Cheshire). Tatton Park.
Portrait of a Physician (Matteo Realdo Colombo). Wood, 89 x 71.
The man, fortyish with forked beard and receding hair, is dressed in a black doublet. Seated at a table in front of an alcove, he rests his forearm on an open book with an anatomical diagram of a heart. The portrait was acquired in 1897 by Wilbraham, Earl Egerton of Tatton, and hung over a door in the entrance hall of Tatton Park. It was previously called simply 'A Physician, Italian (Florentine) School'. It featured in a recent episode of the BBC television programme Britain's Lost Masterpieces (first broadcast on 8 February 2021). An attribution to Salviati was endorsed by David Ekserdjian, and the sitter was identified as the anatomist Matteo Realdo Colombo on the strength of a comparison with a portrait inscribed with Colombo's name and the dates 1544 and 1547. Realdo Colombo studied at Padua, taught anatomy at Pisa University, and then moved to Rome, where he was surgeon to Pope Julius III. His 15-volume treatise De Re Anatomica, published in Venice shortly after his death in 1559, includes the first definitive description of the pulmonary circulation of the blood.
London. Royal Collection.
Virgin and Child with Angel. Wood, 112 x 84.
The angel, with a sword strap 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. The picture currently hangs in the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace. 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. The Salviati attribution, first published in 1909, has been recently doubted, and the portrait was exhibited in 2021 at the Metropolitan Museum (Medici: Portraits and Politics 1512-70) as a work of Bronzino.
Holy Family with an Angel. Wood, 114 x 99.
Usually identified as 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. If the picture is the one painted for Bertini (who was the personal secretary of Maria Salviati, Duke Cosimo's mother), it would date from around 1543. 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.
Representations of the Virgin with a parrot are rare. (Northern European examples include the famous altarpiece of 1436 by Jan van Eyck at Bruges, an engraving of 1470-75 by Martin Schongauer, and a Madonna dated 1533 by Hans Baldung at Nuremberg.) The crest identifies Salviati's parrot as a cockatoo. Cockatoos are native to the south Pacific, and the painter may never have seen a live specimen.
*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 convent of Corpus Domini (which was near the current railway station) was closed 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 bought by Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli, the museum's founder, in 1866 for 440 lire from the art historian Giovanni Morelli. It 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). It has been widely accepted, but not universally so. Philippe Costamagna (in the catalogue of the 1998 Salviati exhibition at Rome and Paris) proposed Michele Tosini. In a recent article (The True Faces of the Sons and Daughters of Cosimo I de' Medici (2011)), Maike Vogt-Lüerssen retained the Salviati attribution and identified the sitter as Grazia de' Medici (1547-62), Duke Cosimo's seventh child and fourth son.
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, half-length and almost in profile, with his hand on the hilt of his sword. The architectural background, with a rectangle of green marble set in a stone frame, is similar to that found in many Florentine portraits of the mid-sixteenth century. From the Farnese collection, where it is recorded in inventories from 1653 as a work of Andrea del Sarto. It was taken to France in 1799 with an attribution to Raphael, and was still attributed to Raphael when it was returned to Rome. 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. The attribution has been widely accepted, and the portrait has been usually dated to the 1540s. It has sometimes been considered a self-portrait because of the similarity with the woodcut portrait of Salviati in Vasari's Vite.
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. Palazzo Reale.
Portrait of Pier Luigi Farnese. Canavs, 100 x 77.
The sitter is identified as Pier Luigi Farnese (1503-47), illegitimate son of Pope Paul III and Captain General of the Church, by comparison with Titian's damaged portrait at the Capodimonte. He has a full beard, wears a plumed hat and winter coat with a heavy fur collar and fur cuffs, clutches the scabbard of his sword with his left hand and rests his right hand on his baton of command. The portrait is recorded as a work of Titian in the 1708 inventory of the Farnese collection at Parma, and it retained that attribution until quite recently. The attribution to Salviati was published by Philippe Costamagna in the catalogue of the 1998 exhibition (Francesco Salviati o La Bella Maniera) held at the Villa Medici, Rome, and the Louvre. The portrait probably dates from the early 1540s, when Salviati was briefly painter to Pier Luigi Farnese in Rome.
Naples. San Giovanni Maggiore.
The Virgin, seated on the right, turns her head to the left as the angel approaches her from behind. 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. A red chalk study for the Virgin's drapery is preserved at the British Museum.
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 Carlo Rimbotti. Wood, 53 x 42.
The sitter, shown almost half-length clutching a small book to his chest, is identified by old inscriptions on the back of the panel, which give his name and age (thirty). Carlo Rimbotti (1518-91) was a medical doctor, who – like Salviati – was a member of the Accademia Fiorentina (a prestigious philosophical and literary academy founded in 1540). Salviati probably painted the Three Fates (Pitti Palace) for Rimbotti. The portrait, which presumably dates from 1548-49, was discovered only in 2016. It was bought by the Metropolitan Museum the following year from a London dealer (Trinity Fine Art).
Portrait of Bindo Altoviti. Marble, 88 x 73.
Bindo Altoviti (1491-1557) was a wealthy and powerful banker. His family was Florentine nobility, but he spent much of his life in exile in Rome because of his anti-Medici sympathies. Raphael's famous portrait of the youthful Altoviti (National Gallery of Art, Washington) dates from around 1512-15. The New York portrait, showing Altoviti heavily bearded and in middle age, must have been painted at least thirty years later. Altoviti appears a few years older still in a portrait by Jacopino del Conte (today at Montreal). Benvenuto Cellini's celebrated bronze bust (Gardner Museum, Boston) was made in 1549. A portrait, attributed to Salviati, at Alnwick Castle may represent Altoviti in the 1530s.
The New York portrait is first recorded (as a portrait of Baccio Bandinelli by Andrea del Sarto) in a 1795 inventory of the collection of Jean de Sellon at Geneva. It remained at Geneva with Sellon's descendants until 2008, when it was auctioned for £3 million at Sotheby's. It was bought by the Bulgarian-born entrepreneur and collector Aso O. Tavitian, and donated to the Metropolitan Museum by the Tavitian Trust in 2022.
The authorship of the portrait has been much debated. There have been attributions to Jan Stephan van Calcar (a German pupil of Titian ) and to Girolamo Bedoli (Parmigianino's successor at Parma). But most recent opinion has favoured either Girolamo da Carpi (an attribution first proposed in 1978 by Carlo Volpe) or Francesco Salviati (proposed in 1996 by Alessandro Ballarin). The attribution to Girolamo da Carpi implies a dating around 1549-52 (when the Ferrarese artist was in Rome). The Salviati attribution would permit an earlier dating (mid-1540s), arguably more consistent with the sitter's apparent age. The use of a marble support is most unusual and might suggest the influence of Sebastiano del Piombo (who painted on slate and, occasionally, other types of stone).
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, fairly 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. One of Salviati's most famous pictures. It was painted for the chapel of Tommaso Guadagni 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.
Tommaso Guadagni was a Florentine spice merchant, textile entrepreneur and international banker, whose fortune in France is said to have amounted to a staggering 400,000 gold ducats. He loaned 50,000 ducats for Francis I's ransom after the Battle of Pavia (1525) and was rewarded with the title of majordomo of the royal household. Vasari misleadingly suggests that Guadagni brought the altarpiece to Lyon himself. Guadagni, in fact, died in 1533, and the commission was overseen by the executor of his will – a merchant called Albizo del Bene.
The picture was taken to the Louvre in 1794 and transferred from panel to canvas in 1806. The Louvre preserves several preparatory drawings for it, including a pen-and-wash modello that served as part of the contract (signed before a notary in Florence). 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.
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 event shown in the fresco took place in Venice in 1177, when the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa recognised Alexander III as the rightful Pope. Against the backdrop of St Mark's Basilica, the Emperor kneels to kiss the foot of the enthroned pontiff.
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 man, in early middle age, is shown three-quarter length against a red hanging with a patterned border. He looks thoughtfully to his right and holds up a cameo with a woman’s profile in his right hand. He has a pair of gloves in his other hand. The portrait entered the Colonna collection with the dowry of Caterina Zeffirina Salviati, who married Fabrizio Colonna in 1718. It was once ascribed to Holbein and to Girolamo da Trevisio. The attribution to Salviati was made in 1909 by Carlo Gamba (Rassegna d'Arte) and has been widely accepted ever since. The portrait has usually been dated quite late (1550s) and has sometimes been called a self-portrait. The colours have darkened.
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.
A charcoal cartoon for the figure of St John the Evangelist, painted on the underside of the arch over the altar, is preserved at the Metropolitan Museum, New York. It is the only surviving cartoon by Salviati.
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 cycle begins on the short window wall, which has three scenes. Upper left, King Saul's daughter Michal saves David from her father's jealous rage (I Samuel 19: 12-14). Upper centre, David spares Saul's life (I Samuel 24: 1-4). Lower centre, Michal watches as David dances before the Ark of the Covenant (II Samuel 6: 16).
The large battle scene on the long chimney wall depicts the death of Saul. The king, lying critically wounded, begs an Amalekite to deliver the coup de grace (II Samuel 1: 6-10).
The short wall opposite the windows is devoted to Bathsheba. The large scene in the centre shows her bathing, watched by David from his palace (II Samuel 11: 2). In the narrow scene on the left, Bethsheba's husband, Uriah the Hittite, is killed fighting in the forefront of the battle (II Samuel 11: 14-17). In the narrow scene on the right, the widowed Bethsheba goes to David (II Samuel 11: 27). She is depicted four times in this last scene: standing at the foot of a winding staircase leading to David's bedchamber: looking back as she climbs the steps; standing on the landing outside the bedchamber; and inside the bedchamber being embraced by David.
The battle scene on the second long wall shows the death of David's son Absalom. Fighting against his father at the forest of Ephraim, his hair is caught in a tree and he is killed by David's commander, Joab, while hanging from the branches (II Samuel 18: 6-15). Salviati seems to have based the figure of Absalom, the 'handsomest man in Israel', on the Apollo Belvedere.
The palazzo, which had belonged to the Sacchetti family since 1648, was sold in 2015. The buyer, the real estate developer Robert de Balkany, died very shortly afterwards and the property came onto the market again. It is not open to the public.
Rome. San Francesco a Ripa. 2nd chapel left of entrance.
Annunciation. Wood, 235 x 139.
The scene is set in a grand loggia with marble columns and tiled floor. God the Father, holding a large transparent globe, appears on a cloud to release the dove of the Holy Spirit. The picture is one of Salviati’s earliest surviving works, dating (Vasari implies) from around 1534-35, It was painted as the altarpiece of the funerary chapel of Mariano Castellani (of a noble family of Trastevere) and his widow Bernardina de’ Rustici (who was originally Tuscan and probably commissioned the picture), 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 for the Salviati exhibition held at the Louvre. Some deep cracks in the panel have opened up again, but the colour remains exceptionally clear and bright.
Rome. San Giovanni Decollato.
Visitation; Birth of the Baptist. Frescoes.
The oratory, founded by a Florentine brotherhood devoted to the comforting of condemned prisoners, was decorated between 1538 and 1553. Salviati contributed two of the eight scenes from the Life of the Baptist. The Visitation is dated 1538. The subject is treated as a very public event, in which the Virgin Mary and St Elizabeth meet in a crowded Renaissance square. The head-and-shoulders portraits of the two men standing on the stairway in the left foreground are thought to represent Giovanni da Cepperello and Battista da Sangallo, members of the pious confraternity that commissioned the decoration. The fresco is a work of remarkable eclecticism, incorporating obvious ideas and motifs from Raphael and his Roman followers, Michelangelo, Parmigianino and even Ghirlandaio. It was lavishly praised by Vasari, who says that 'all Rome was struck with astonishment by it'. Its fame is attested by the number of early copies (including engravings by Giorgio Ghisi, Bartolomeo Passarotti and Jacob Matham). The Birth of the Baptist – which Vasari says is not as good – was painted thirteen years later than the Visitation and is dated 1551.
Other scenes are by the Florentine Jacopino del Conte (John the Baptist Preaching, Baptism of Christ and Annunciation to Zachariah), the Neapolitan Pirro Ligorio (Dance of Salome) and the Venetian Battista Franco (Arrest of the Baptist). The Beheading of the Baptist has sometimes been ascribed to Salviati or Pirro Ligorio, but may have been executed by an assistant or follower of Salviati who reused some of Salviati's old designs. On the evidence of drawings, Perino del Vaga was involved in the early stages of the project, but none of the scenes was executed by him.
Salviati also painted the figures of Saint Andrew and Saint Bartholomew flanking the Deposition by Jacopino del Conte over the high altar. St Andrew embraces an enormous wooden cross and St Bartolomew holds his flaying knife.
The oratory was restored in 2005-14.
Church (second altar on right).
Doubting Thomas. Fresco.
A near replica of the altarpiece, now in the Louvre, which was painted in 1544-45 for the chapel of Tommaso Guadagni in the Jacobin church at Lyon. A bust-length donor portrait has been added, bottom left. Often ascribed to Vasari, but probably by Salviati’s workshop. It may date from around 1553.
The church and oratory are usually closed. (They are open to the public on the patron saint's feast day – 24 June.)
Rome. San Marcello al Corso (third 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 (restored in 1994-96).
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 crowded feast scene shows Christ's first miracle (John 2: 1-10). He is seated in the centre, next to his mother. A servant, bottom centre, follows Christ's bidding in filling stone jars with water, which will be turned into wine. Salviati appears to have included his own portrait (to the left, behind the bridegroom). The fresco, on the end wall of the refectory of the former Augustinian convent, was painted in the early 1550s. A fine print of the composition, published in the 1590s or early 1600s, is attributed either to the Dutch engraver Jacob Matham or to a collaboration between Matham and his stepfather Hendrik Goltzius.
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. The room is not always accessible to the public.
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 Tosini (Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio). The identity of the sitter remains a mystery, though Alessandro de' Medici and his assassin Lorenzino de' Medici (Lorenzaccio) have both been proposed as candidates.
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 the painter's patron Cardinal Giovanni Salviati and heir of the Roman branch of the Salviati family. 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. It has been suggested recently (by Xiaoyin Huang in a 2013 dissertation on Salviati's portraits) that the sitter could be the Florentine writer and publisher Anton Francesco Doni (1513-74). The identification is based on a comparison with an engraved portrait in Doni's 1547 book of letters.
Turin. Accademia Albertina.
Charity. Wood, 87 x 60.
Charity, represented as usual as a young woman with three children, is shown three-quarter length looking to the right. Attributed to Salviati as an early work (late 1530s). While simpler and less sophisticated, the composition has some similarities with Salviati's more famous paintings of the subject in the Uffizi and at Munich. Bequeathed to the Accademia in 1828 with the collection of Archbishop Vincenzo Maria Mossi. Previously ascribed to Parmigianino or his school. The Salviati attribution was published in 1958 (by Andreina Griseri in Bollettino d'Arte). 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 – with frieze-like figures shown against plain red backgrounds – 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. Previously ascribed to Parmigianino. The attribution to Salviati was made in 1912 (by Hermann Voss) and has been generally accepted.
Portrait of Giovanni della Casa. Wood, 63 x 50.
The name of the sitter was formerly inscribed on the back of the panel, but has now apparently been erased. Giovanni della Casa (1503-1556) was a Florentine poet, ecclesiastic and author of a famous treatise on etiquette (Il Galateo overo de' Costumi). He is shown as a bearded man in his thirties, half-length and almost full face, wearing a brocaded dark coat and black hat. He holds a folded letter. The portrait is recorded in a 1870 inventory as a work of the 'school of Pourbus'. The attribution to Salviati was made by Iris Cheney in her 1963 monograph on the painter. It has been largely accepted, though at least one critic (Philippe Costamagna) has called the picture the work of a follower. The portrait probably dates from the mid or late 1530s. There is a copy in the British Royal Collection (Kensington Palace). Pontormo's portrait of Giovanni della Casa (National Gallery of Art, Washington) was probably painted in the early 1540s. It shows the sitter with red hair and a fuller beard.
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 with a Fawn. 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, which licks his left hand. 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. On the evidence of the Torrigiani provenance, the young sitter was tentatively identified by Costamagna (1998) as Guglielmo Guadagni (born 1534), nephew of Filippo Guadagni. (The Guadagni and Torrigiani families were united by marriage in the eighteenth century, and the Guadagni art collection was moved to the Palazzo Torrigiani.) The portrait is exceptionally well preserved.
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 attribution to Salviati was proposed in 1914 in an unpublished opinion by the German art historian August Mayer and received the influential support of Bernard Berenson. It is still adopted by the museum, but has often been disputed. Other candidates include Michele Tosini and Maso da San Friano. The picture was given to the gallery in 1952 by the New York stockbroker Samuel L. Fuller. 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. In pose and appearance, the sitter resembles the Portrait of a Man of the Santacroce Family at Vienna. 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.