- 1484 - 1525
Scholars know little about the training of Franciabigio, the son of a Milanese linen weaver, except that he assisted in the studio of a follower of Fra Bartolommeo. His spacious architectural settings and the swaying movement of his figures reflect his two trips to Rome, where he studied Raphael's murals.
The workshop that Franciabigio founded with Andrea del Sarto around 1506 shaped multitudes of young Florentine artists. Del Sarto's art of velvety grace came to overshadow Franciabigio's less polished style, despite its dramatic force and sincerity, and the two friends became competitors. When the friars of a church unveiled both their murals the same morning, not realizing that Franciabigio's was unfinished, the artist "almost died of grief." Giorgio Vasari reported that he tore into the wall "with a bricklayer's hammer." Franciabigio's damaged Marriage of the Virgin,still on view, testifies mutely to his rage.
Franciabigio's introspective portraits captured his sitters' spirit and mood along with their physical appearance. In an early series of half-length male portraits, each man posed with a gaze fixed either meditatively or piercingly on the viewer.