- Andrea del Sarto: Text and IllustrationsOur PickBy Sydney J. Freedberg
- Andrea Del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in ActionOur PickBy Julian Brookes, Denise Allen, and Xavier F Salomon
- Andrea del SartoOur PickBy John Shearman
- Lives of the Most Eminent Painters Sculptors and ArchitectsOur PickBy Giorgio Vasari
- Painting of the High Renaissance in Rome and FlorenceBy Sydney J. Freedberg
- The Mural Painters of Tuscany: From Cimabue to Andrea Del SartoBy Eve Borsook
- Andrea Del SartoBy Alfred; Ligaran De Musset
- Color and Meaning: Practice and Theory in Renaissance PaintingBy Marcia B Hall
- Painting in Italy, 1500-1600By S J Freedberg
- The High RenaissanceBy Linda Murray
Important Art by Andrea del Sarto
This fresco depicts the biblical account of the three Magi arriving at King Herod's palace. The lower foreground, and right side of the painting, are dominated by an animated crowd of foreign merchants carrying exotic goods and animals (including a giraffe visible in the right background). On the left, del Sarto has rendered the edge of Herod's palace with careful foreshortening. One of the unusual things about this fresco is the beautiful Tuscan countryside that forms the painting's backdrop.
This crowd of merchants also features portraits of Sarto's contemporaries, demonstrating thus his skill as a portraitist. On the right, one can observe a portrait of the sculptor Jacopo Sansovino (with whom he worked between 1511-17) standing beside the musician Francesco de Layolle. The painting also includes a self-portrait (visible to the left of Sansovino). A prominent rock in the painting's lower foreground bears the artist's signature which is composed of two interlocking "As".
This fresco is located in the Court of the Servi in the pilgrimage church of Santissima Annunziata in Florence, and forms part of Sarto's first important public commission of 1509. Like his other early works, this painting is infused with a palpable energy and dynamism. The figures are not refined, polished, or idealised, as they would become in his later art; their poses are relaxed and appear quite natural. As the son of a Florentine tailor, Sarto also enjoyed rendering the texture and fall of drapery. Indeed, in this painting each figure is adorned in a different coloured garment which brings an added element of animation the scene.
This devotional work is in a style known as Sacra Conversazione (Holy Conversation); a genre of painting that was very popular during the Italian Renaissance. The genre typically depicts the Virgin Mary and the Christ child who is here flanked by two saints, Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Margaret of Antioch (together with her attribute, the sinister dragon she is known for conquering), and the figure of St. John the Baptist as a child in the middle-near foreground (with his attribute of a lamb). The conversion ceremony is being overseen by the Virgin Mary, who enacts a blessing with her right hand, and by Saint Margaret, who watches attentively.
This painting is an early work that displays a number of painterly influences borrowed from del Sarto's contemporaries. To begin with, this panel painting reveals del Sarto's thorough understanding of Leonardo da Vinci's use of chiaroscuro and sfumato while the balance, symmetry, and harmony of the composition carries echoes of Raphael. At the same time, the work exhibits the artist's personal style that was uniquely animated in his early years. The figures are beautiful but not overtly idealized; they exhibit, rather, naturalistic poses that bring an added emotional element to the scene. There is also a sense of playfulness that disrupts the composition's sense of order, and suggests a refreshing degree of confidence in the young artist. Furthermore, the painting is composed of vivid colours; del Sarto's expressive use of intense, saturated hues were unsurpassed in Florentine painting.
This grisaille (grey monochrome) fresco depicts St. John the Baptist in the act of baptising a crowd. It is one of a series of frescoes depicting the life and times of St. John the Baptist in the Chiostro dello Scalzo cloister. Begun around 1511, the work was not completed until 1526, and almost all of the work was completed in del Sarto's own hand. The cycle is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance Art, while K. G. Shearman, Professor of Fine Arts at Harvard University, argued that the frescos read "like an artistic autobiography covering the greater part of his career". Del Sarto's crisp expression of the narrative, his delicate rendering of water and fabrics, as well as his sculptural rendering of the figures, pushed the conventions of monumental fresco painting, and played an important role in the development of Mannerism. The refined forms of the figures also reflect del Sarto's interest in woodcuts by Northern artists such as Martin Schongauer, Albrecht Dürer, and Lucas van Leyden.
Positioned at the very centre of the composition, John the Baptist's right foot is perched on a rock as he pours water from a simple terracotta bowl onto the head of a kneeling figure. He cradles a cane crucifix to the left side of his body. The kneeling figure hugs his own torso as he undergoes his baptism; his feet and right knee are submerged in the river. On either side, figures observe the scene as they wait their turn to be baptised. Some of the figures perch on rocks that sit in the river. In the right background of the fresco, there is another crowd of onlookers standing on a low hill.
Del Sarto has approached this subject matter as a chance to render the human body in different poses and with varying degrees of clothing. For example, there is a figure on the far right wearing a fabric that only covers his upper body; his rear is visible to the viewer. Moreover, on the left, there is a figure that perches elegantly on a rock; the muscles in his legs, arms, and chest are very prominent. The range of different postures reveals the artist's masterful command of the human body and his ability to render its lines and shapes from all angles. Additionally, the scene is framed by an elaborately painted architectural setting which further confirms del Sarto's technical range.