Baccio della Porta, called Fra Bartolommeo

Italian, 1472–1517

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Biography

Born in Tuscany, Renaissance master Fra Bartolommeo was inspired by the Dominican Friar Girolamo Savonarola, who suggested that art should illustrate the bible as a means of teaching the illiterate. Artistically, Bartolommeo was influenced by Piero di Cosimo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Leonardo da Vinci, and, later, friend and colleague Raphael. Bartolommeo became known for painting small draped figures, a tendency many considered an artistic weakness compared to the more heroically proportioned forms of his Renaissance contemporaries. He responded by creating a massive rendering of St. Mark often regarded as his masterpiece; hanging in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence, the work proved his ability to paint the human body with a more colossal presence, in the style of Michelangelo. Many also credit Bartolommeo as the first to work from the lay figure, the jointed wooden model now widely used by students and professional artists alike.

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National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and 1 more