Jacopo Zucchi trained with Giorgio Vasari. While assisting in the decoration of Florence's Palazzo Vecchio as early as 1557 and again between 1563 and 1565, he learning Vasari's allusions and conceits. Zucchi's earliest drawing dates from a trip with Vasari to Pisa in 1561. In 1564 Zucchi entered the Accademia del Disegno and helped with Michelangelo's funeral decorations. He was also Vasari's chief assistant for the Vatican decorations in 1567 and 1572. Zucchi's Mannerism of this period combines classicism, naturalism, and Northern European influences in compositions filled with graceful, attenuated figures in exaggerated yet elegant movement.
By 1572 Zucchi's relations with Vasari may have soured. He moved to Rome, where he was appointed artist in residence to the Medici court. He became a member of the Roman school, losing even his Tuscan accent. The Roman Mannerism that began with Raphael then enriched Zucchi's work, giving his forms fullness, depth of space, and greater ornamental opulence. His frescoes in the Palazzo Rucellai and Palazzo di Firenze show Federico Zuccaro's influence, to which Zucchi added his own lively design. About thirty drawings are attributed to Zucchi, including pen sketches, brush and gouache composition sketches, and decorative architectural drawings. He also made easel paintings and altarpieces.