2020 Theses Doctoral
Collaborative Endeavors in the Career of Andrea del Sarto
This dissertation offers a new interpretation of Andrea del Sarto’s art and career and is rooted in the premise that collaboration played a central role in Andrea’s artistic practice. Serving as an interpretative rebalancing act, it focuses not on Andrea’s personality, individual artistic practice, or influence on later painters, but on his collaborative undertakings in the first half of his career. Each of the four chapters centers on a large, complex, and ambitious cycle of paintings. These projects, frequently exceeding the physical and technical capabilities of a single individual, were virtually impossible for an artist to produce in isolation, thus readily lending themselves to a collaborative approach.
Chapter One examines Andrea’s early years working at Santissima Annunziata and focuses on the fresco cycle depicting the life of the Blessed Phillip Benizzi that Andrea carried out in tandem with Franciabigio. The two young painters, who met while studying the battle scene cartoons of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, shared a workshop in their earliest years as independent artists and worked together on their first commissions. The Philip Benizzi fresco cycle, which fills one side of the Chiostro dei Voti, the Annunziata’s forecourt, illustrates what I call “manual collaboration,” in which the two painters co-executed several of the paintings, even as each maintained his own cartoon transfer methods and stylistic tendencies.
Chapter Two also concentrates on the Annunziata, but shifts its attention to the other side of the Chiostro dei Voti. It begins by looking at The Journey of the Magi, a fresco in which Andrea includes a self-portrait alongside depictions of his friends the sculptor Jacopo Sansovino and the musician and composer Francesco d’Aiolle and considers the implications of Andrea’s move to the Sapienza complex, adjacent to the Servite church. The chapter then examines the rich musical environment in which Andrea was embedded at the Annunziata. It considers how contemporary ideas of musical harmony and figural polyphony, in what I call “conceptual collaboration,” may have influenced the Marian fresco cycle, which Andrea carried out alongside Franciabigio, Jacopo Pontormo, and Rosso Fiorentino.
Chapter Three turns to the Borgherini bedchamber, a private commission for an elaborate room in the palace of Pierfrancesco Borgherini decorated with painted panels illustrating the life of the Old Testament figure of Joseph, whose production was overseen by the architect Baccio d’Agnolo. In light of unpublished archival material, the chapter considers both the overall ensemble and the individual paintings executed by Andrea, Jacopo Pontormo, Francesco Granacci, and Bacchiacca in relation to Pope Leo X’s triumphal entry into Florence, on which almost all of the artists had worked in the year prior to undertaking the bedchamber. This chapter considers both how Baccio d’Agnolo, in a form of “programmatic collaboration,” oversaw the project and how the painters worked with one another as they developed and then executed their own panel paintings.
Chapter Four examines the Chiostro dello Scalzo, a space to which Andrea returned throughout his career that exemplifies several of the modes of collaboration discussed in earlier chapters. Considering a form of “intermedial collaboration,” the chapter looks at the transfer and translation of designs across surfaces and media, with special attention to Andrea’s work with the sculptor Jacopo Sansovino. The chapter concludes with a consideration of the Scalzo’s afterlife and how it served as a site that invited collaborative tendencies in subsequent generations of artists.
The dissertation concludes with an Epilogue that addresses Andrea’s little-studied time in France from 1518 to 1519, a period of his career that cries out for further evaluation. This trip marks the moment when Andrea shifted from collaborating with his peers to directing his own large workshop, one that thrived during the 1520s and became the training ground for a future generation of painters. Taken together, these chapters illuminate several manifestations of collaboration in Andrea’s career, helping to reframe our understanding of artistic authorship in the sixteenth century.
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More About This Work
- Academic Units
- Art History and Archaeology
- Thesis Advisors
- Cole, Michael W.
- Ph.D., Columbia University
- Published Here
- June 8, 2020