2 January 2016

Piero di Cosimo – painter

Florentine artist achieved world wide recognition

A Renaissance artist famous for his elaborate landscapes, Piero di Cosimo, was born on this day in Florence in 1462.

Piero di Cosimo's Immaculate Conception with
Saints is housed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
His paintings are now in galleries all over the world and experts credit him with bringing the Renaissance spirit into the 16th century, while adding vivacity and lyricism.

The painter was born Piero di Lorenzo di Chimenti, but he became known as Piero di Cosimo after being apprenticed to the painter Cosimo Rosselli, with whom he frescoed the walls of the Sistine Chapel.

Early in his career he was influenced by the Flemish artist, Hugo van der Goes, and from him acquired a love for painting the countryside with all the plants and animals in great detail.

Piero di Cosimo eventually moved to Rome where he began painting scenes from classical mythology and he also developed a reputation for eccentric behaviour among his fellow artists.

But he was regarded as an excellent portrait painter and regularly received commissions. His most famous portrait, of a Florentine noble woman, Simonetta Vespucci, who was the mistress of Giuliano dè Medici, is now in a gallery in France.

Later in his life Piero di Cosimo became profoundly influenced by hellfire preacher Savonarola and turned his attention to painting religious subjects.

The Immaculate Conception with Saints in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence is an example of his religious fervour at the time, as is The Adoration of the Christ Child, an oil painting on wood, in the Galleria Borghese in Rome.

But many of his most famous paintings are now in galleries in America, Canada, Brazil, Britain, Germany and France.

It is believed that Piero di Cosimo died after contracting the plague in 1522.

Travel tip:

The Uffizi in Florence is one of the oldest and most famous art galleries in the world and houses a wealth of Renaissance art treasures. Located in Piazzale degli Uffizi close to Piazza della Signoria and the Palazzo Vecchio, it was originally built as a suite of offices in 1560, but later became used by the Medici family to display their art treasures. Visit www.uffizi.org

The Uffizi houses a wealth of Renaissance art treasures
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence by night
Photo: Chris Wee (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Travel tip:

Galleria Borghese in Villa Borghese in Rome was built in 1613 for Cardinal Scipione Borghese to display his magnificent art collection. The gallery now houses masterpieces by Caravaggio, Titian and Lotto as well as sculptures by Bernini and Canova. To visit the gallery it is necessary to reserve tickets. For details visit www.galleriaborghese.it

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