Featured Artist of the week Piero di Cosimo

Piero di Cosimo also known as Piero di Lorenzo was born in Florence Italy and was the son of a goldsmith. He was born January 2nd 1462. This might prove to be our shortest article of Featured Artists of the week due to there is not much detail about his life except that he apprenticed under the artist Cosimo Rosseli and it is said that is where he took the name Piero di Cosimo. We do know that Piero married the daughter of Cosimo Rosseli and he assisted Cosimo Rosseli in painting the Sistine Chapel in 1481.

In the beginning of Piero’s career he was highly influenced by the Netherlandish naturalism of Hugo van der Goes. Hugo is said to have helped to lead the Florentine painting community into new channels. It is said that Piero learned from Cosimo Rosseli the love pf landscape and the intimate knowledge of the growth of flowers and of animal life. The manner of Hugo van der Goes is especially seen in the adoration of the Shepherds. It is said that the High Renaissance style of the new century had little influence on Piero. He stayed true to his straightforward realism of his figures, which he combined with an often whimsical treatment of his subjects to create the distinctive mood of his works.

Piero took a journey to Rome in 1482 with his master Rosseli where he proved himself to be a rue child of the Renaissance by depicting subjects of classical mythology in painting such as Venus, Mars, and cupid, The death of Procris, the Perseus and Andromeda series and many others.

Inspired to the Vitruvius account of the evolution of man, Piero’s mythical compositions show a rather bizzar presence of hybrid forms of men and animals, or the man learning to use fire and tools. The amount of nudes in these works is said to show the influence of Luca Signorelli in Piero’s art.

Piero is said to have been a very eccentric man. Who was scared of thunderstorms. It is also said that Piero had such a great fear of fire that he rarely cooked his food. He lived mostly on a diet of hard boiled eggs , which he prepared in batches of 50 a a time while boiling his glue for is artworks. It is also said that he was not the most sanitary man, he resisted any cleaning of his studio, or trimming of hid fruit trees or orchard. Vasari wrote about Piero in his book Lives of Artists that Piero lived more like a beast than a man.

In piero’s elder years his master Rosseli died, and it is said that Piero turned his attention once more to religious art. He produced the Immaculate Conception of the Saints and the holy family at Dresden. These works illustrate the religious fervour to which he was stimulated by the preacher Girolamo Savonarola. With the exception of the landscape background in Rosselli’s fresco of the Sermon on the mount, in the Sistine Chapel, there is no record of any fresco work from Piero’s brush. Yet, on the other hand Piero enjoyed a great reputation as a portrait painter. The most famous of his works is in fact the portrait of Simonetta Vespucci, a mistress of Giuliano de Medici.

According to Vasari, Piero was a master of designing pageants and triumphal processions for the pleasure loving youths of Florence. Vasari gives a vivid description of a procession at the end of a carnival in 1507. This carnival was said to illustrate the triumph of death. It is also said that Piero help a considerable influence on his fellow pupils Albertinelli and Bartolomeo della Porta. Piero was also the master of Andrea del Sarto.

The death of Piero is somewhat of a debate. Vasari gave Piero’s date of death as 1521. This date is still repeated by many sources including the Encyclopaedia Britannica. However, contemporary documents reveal that he died of the plague on April 12 1522. I found no information of where Piero was buried. However he is said to be among the most inventive painters of the Italian Renaissance. Vasari said that Piero had a ” Strangeness of his brain , and his constant seeking after difficulties.” In all of his works including alterpieces, poetic mythologies, portraits, and festival designs, Piero gave life to distinctive characters endowed with poignant emotion and memorable individuality, Although he was said to be an eccentric, so devoted to the secrets of art and nature that he abandoned human company and lived a meager existence but Piero was also a successful and highly sought after painter.

4 comments

  1. He was one of the most important influence in art,yet one of the most highly underrated. Great job digging up information on this artist AKA. you never fail to give me inspiration.

    Liked by 2 people

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