Fra Bartolomeo: 12 interesting facts

By Gwylym Owen

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Fra Bartolomeo or Bartolommeo OP (, US: /-tl-/, Italian: [bartolo(m)ˈmɛːo]; 28 March 1472 – 31 October 1517), also known as Bartolommeo di Pagholo,Bartolommeo di S. Marco, and his indigenous name Baccio della Porta, was an Italian Renaissance painter of religious subjects. He spent whatever his career in Florence until his mid-forties, when he travelled to take action in various cities, as in the distance south as Rome. He trained when Cosimo Roselli and in the 1490s fell under the fake of Savonarola, which led him to become a Dominican friar in 1500, renouncing painting for several years. Typically his paintings are of static groups of figures in subjects such as the Virgin and Child bearing in mind Saints.

He was instructed to resume painting for the help of his order in 1504, and after that developed an idealized High Renaissance style, seen in his Vision of St Bernard of that year, now in destitute condition but whose “figures and drapery impinge on with a seraphic grace that must have struck the minor Raphael when the force of revelation”. He remained associates with Raphael, and each influenced the other.

His portrait of Savonarola remains the best known image of the reformer. Fra Bartolomeo painted both in oils and fresco, and some of his drawings are unlimited landscape sketches that are the antediluvian of this type from any Italian artist.

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