Caravaggio and the Painters of the North
From 21 June to 18 September 2016
A painter, sculptor, draughtsman, illuminator and printmaker, Beccafumi was one of the outstanding representatives of Tuscan Mannerism. According to Vasari, Domenico di Giacomo di Pace, also known as Mecherino, was the son of a humble farmer from a small town near Siena. From his early youth he enjoyed the patronage of the wealthy Lorenzo Beccafumi, a protector of his father from whom he artist took his surname. This patron apparently funded the artist’s training in Siena. His early works reveal the marked influence of the Florentine painters Fra Bartolommeo and Albertinelli while he was also interested in the innovations of contemporary painters such as Filippino Lippi, Piero di Cosimo, Perugino, Signorelli and Il Sodoma. Between 1510 and 1512 Beccafumi lived in Rome where he studied the work of Raphael, Michelangelo and Baldassare Peruzzi. He returned to Siena where he lived and worked for the remainder of his life, with the exception of a second trip to Rome in 1519 and a brief stay in Genoa. Beccafumi soon developed a distinctive style in which the effects and interplay of light played an important role. His compositions are imbued with a sense of emotional and visual tension and instability, characteristics that make his paintings a forerunner of later Mannerism. In the late 1520s he was appointed official painter to the Republic of Siena and received a large number of commissions to produce works for the city’s churches. His best-known works are those painted for the Sala del Consistorio in the Palazzo Publico.
Beccafumi devoted most of his later activity to sculpture, in particular to a series of bronze angels commissioned around 1548 for the city’s cathedral. He designed mosaics and was also a skilled printmaker in both engraving and woodcut.