Taddeo Decorating the Facade of Palazzo Mattei
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Federico Zuccaro
Italian, about 1595
Pen and brown ink, brush with brown wash, over black chalk and touches of red chalk
9 7/8 x 16 5/8 in.

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The series culminates with the largest and most elaborate scene, showing Taddeo Zuccaro decorating the facade of the Palazzo Mattei, the work that established his reputation when he was only eighteen years old. Biographer Giorgio Vasari explained that when Taddeo returned to Rome, his cousin Francesco il Sant'Angelo sought him out and they began to work together on many commissions. Francesco recommended him to a Roman nobleman, Jacopo Mattei, and suggested that Taddeo paint the first two subjects to prove his artistic talent when Mattei thought the artist too young. Taddeo sits precariously on a scaffolding painting the facade, with two allegories of Fame flying above. The Three Graces stand around him with Allegories of Spirit and Pride. Although the frescoes are still unfinished in the drawing, the most famous painters in Rome already flock to see them. Michelangelo arrives on horseback with his servant and two of his followers, and Vasari is deep in conversation with Francesco Salviati on the far right. Completed in 1548, the facade was hailed as a masterpiece by the leading artists in Rome, and it cemented the young Taddeo's reputation.