Who is Alesso Baldovinetti?

By Gwylym Owen

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Alesso or Alessio Baldovinetti (14 October 1427 – 29 August 1499) was an Italian at the forefront Renaissance painter and draftsman.

Baldovinetti was born in Florence to a rich noble relations of merchants. In 1448 he was registered as a supporter of the Guild of St. Luke: “Alesso di Baldovinetti, dipintore.”

He was a aficionada of the action of scientific realists and naturalists in art which included Andrea del Castagno, Paolo Uccello and Domenico Veneziano. Tradition says that he assisted in the decorations of the church of S. Egidio, however no records state this. These decoration were carried out during the years 1441–1451 by Domenico Veneziano and in conjunction subsequently Andrea del Castagno. That he was commissioned to unqualified the series at a complex date (1460) is certain.

In 1460 Alesso was employed to paint the great fresco of the Annunciation in the cloister of the Annunziata basilica. The remains as we see them have enough money evidence of the artist’s faculty both of imitating natural detail considering minute fidelity and of spacing his figures in a landscape considering a large suitability of let breathe and distance; and they amply sustain two remove statements of Vasari on him: that “he delighted in drawing landscapes from natural world exactly as they are, whence we see in his paintings rivers; bridges, rocks, plants, fruits, roads, fields, cities, exercise grounds, and an infinity of other such things,” and that he was an inveterate experimentalist in complex matters.

His favourite method in wall-painting was to lay in his compositions in fresco and finish them a secco with a fusion of yolk of egg and liquid varnish. This, says Vasari, was once the view of protecting the painting from damp; but in course of epoch the parts executed subsequently this vehicle scaled away, so that the great secret he hoped to have discovered turned out a failure. In 1463 he furnished a cartoon of the Nativity, which was executed in tarsia by Giuliano de Maiano in the sacristy of the cathedral and yet exists. In c. 1465 he painted Portrait of a Lady in Yellow. From 1466 date the groups of four Evangelists and four Fathers of the Church in fresco, together in imitation of the Annunciation on an oblong panel, which nevertheless decorate the Portuguese chapel in the basilica of San Miniato, and are solution in error by Vasari to Piero Pollaiuolo.

In 1471 Alesso undertook important works for the church of Santa Trinita upon the commission of Bongianni Gianfigliazzi: first, to paint an altar-piece of the Holy Trinity bearing in mind saints, a play-act that he curtains in 1472; next, a series of frescoes from the Old Testament which was to be completed according to concord within five years, but actually remained on hand for thoroughly twenty-six. In 1497 the done series, which contained many portraits of leading Florentine citizens, was valued at a thousand gold florins by a committee consisting of Cosimo Rosselli, Benozzo Gozzoli, Perugino and Filippino Lippi; only some defaced fragments of it now remain. Meanwhile, Alesso had been much occupied later other perplexing pursuits and researches apart from painting. He was regarded by his contemporaries as the one craftsman who had rediscovered and abundantly understood the long disused art of mosaic, and was employed accordingly amongst 1481 and 1483 to repair the mosaics exceeding the approach of the church of S. Miniato, as skillfully as several of those both within and without the baptistery of the cathedral. He died in the hospital San Paolo, August 29, 1499, and was buried in San Lorenzo.

One of his pupils was Domenico Ghirlandaio.

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