Andrea Solario was born into a family of artists but he was the first member to devote himself to painting. Despite being mentioned by both Vasari in the Lives and Lomazzo in his Trattato dell’arte della Pittura, for many years he was a little known figure and his work was frequently attributed to better-known artists such as Bernardino Luini. Solario’s oeuvre, comprising around fifty paintings and twenty drawings, was only reconstructed in the 19th century by Mündler. Little is known of the artist’s life but it has been suggested that he may have first trained with his elder brother, the sculptor Cristoforo Solario. It is thought that during the early 1490s the Solario accompanied his brother on a trip to Venice where he encountered the work of Antonello da Messina, which profoundly influenced his own style. The fact that his first signed and dated work, a Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Simeon (Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan) of 1495, was originally in Murano supports this hypothesis. In early 1507 Solario was invited to France by Cardinal Georges I d’Amboise, who commissioned him to decorate the chapel of the châteaux at Gaillon, residence of the archbishops of Rouen. Solario remained there until at least September 1509. Much of the scant documentation that relates to the artist is associated with the payments that he received in France from the d’Amboise family. On his return to Milan he worked for the Cardinal’s nephew and heir, Charles II d’Amboise, governor of Milan, and for other members of the city’s political and ecclesiastical elites.
Andrea Solario primarily focused on religious painting but was also a great portraitist. His style assimilated Leonardo’s models and solutions, while also reflecting the work of Antonello da Messina. Solario’s painting reveals a profound knowledge of Flemish art, evident, for example, in The Lamentation (Musée du Louvre, Paris), which combines oil and tempera. Solario died in Milan before 8 August 1524.