b. about 1504 Bologna, Italy, d. 1570 Paris
painter; draftsman; sculptor; architect; designer
"[T]he first works in stucco that were done in France, and the first labors in fresco of any account, had their origin, it is said, from Primaticcio." --Giorgio Vasari
After Primaticcio worked with Giulio Romano on decorations at Mantua's Palazzo del Tè, François I invited him to his palace at Fontainebleau in 1532. Aside from royal art-buying trips to Italy, Primaticcio remained there as court artist under François I, Henri II, and François II. His responsibilities ranged from planning interior decoration to serving as architect in the design of entire buildings. His versatility also extended to painting, supervising tapestry production, and creating designs for court masques and other celebrations.
At Fontainebleau, Primaticcio worked closely with Rosso Fiorentino, introducing Italian Mannerist features into French decorative art. Their distinctive combination of painting and stucco relief became a hallmark of the School of Fontainebleau. After Rosso's death in 1540, Primaticcio became chief designer. He completed his masterpiece, the Ulysses Gallery, between the late 1630s and 1659.
Throughout the 1500s, Primaticcio's elongated, elegant figure-drawing style greatly influenced French painting. His architectural work was equally influential but because many of the buildings he worked on have been destroyed, a record of this body of work often survives only in prints and drawings.
Centaur & Lapith
Italian, about 1540
Italian, about 1543
Vulcan at His Forge
Italian, about 1550
Study of God