Giovanni Battista Naldini created a unique Mannerist style that borrowed not only from his masters Jacopo Pontormo and Giorgio Vasari but from their teacher, Andrea del Sarto. He adopted Vasari's forms, but his art's feeling and energy--though softened--came from Pontormo. From del Sarto, Naldini absorbed intimate, sentimental, and painterly elements. While his teachers ranked line over color, Naldini used paint, often on a heavily loaded brush, to create rhythms across his panels.
Naldini joined Pontormo's studio at twelve and remained for about eight years. After Pontormo's death, he studied in Rome from about 1560 to 1561. Upon returning to Florence, Vasari recruited him to assist with decorations for the Palazzo Vecchio. From then on, although he had numerous patrons throughout Tuscany, Naldini worked largely under Vasari's supervision for the Medici. He helped with decorations for Michelangelo's funeral rites and painted four altarpieces for local churches as part of Vasari's renovation plans.
In 1563 Naldini helped to found the Accademia del Disegno, in which he remained active for life. During his last years he was one of the most esteemed painters of religious subjects in Florence.