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Mariotto Albertinelli The Visitation 1503
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"The Visitation"
Luke 1

This Visitation is regarded as the best of the works done by Albertinelli alone, other than in collaboration with his friend, Fra Bartolommeo. It was painted in 1503 when the artist was twenty-nine years old. The picture is notable for its coloring and for the expressive attitudes of the two women.

It illustrates the passage in Luke, "And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe to be John the Baptist, leaped in her womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost." The birth of John the Baptist preceded that of Christ by about six months.

Mariotto Albertinelli 1474 – 1515

It was both the fortune and misfortune of Mariotto Albertinelli, a distinguished, if not a great, painter of the Florentine school, to have been closely associated during most of his maturity with Fra Bartolommeo, to whose work his own is compared and not always to its advantage.

Albertinelli, the son of a gold-beater, and born in 1474, was a year older than Bartolommeo, whose serious and gentle nature was in marked contrast to the gay and somewhat boisterous disposition of the older artist, but who, nevertheless, became his chosen and closest friend.

Associated in an apprenticeship that lasted six or seven years the two lads, feeling that they had nothing more to learn from their teacher, formed a partnership, rented a studio in common and became artists on their own account. Doubtless, ventures a biographer, they spent much time in the Medici gardens, where Lorenzo the Magnificent, then ruler of Florence, had collected many valuable specimens of antique statuary, which were eagerly studied by the Florentine artists of the time. But "while Albertinelli gave his whole attention to copying these marbles, Bartolommeo studied also the works of Masaccio, of Filippino Lippi and, above all, of Leonardo da Vinci. His progress was rapid, and his influence over his friend in all matters pertaining to art, in spite of their different dispositions, was so strong that most of Albertinelli's work bears a strong resemblance to that of Bartolommeo."

Albertinelli appears to have been anything but fastidious in the choice of his pleasures, was a tavern frequenter and a sort of Francois Villon of Florence. He had as a protectress the wife of Pierre de Medici, whose portrait he painted, and for a number of other pictures. The dissimilarity of his nature and that of his partner artist was forcibly shown at the time Savonarola, the renowned preaching friar and reformer, was predicting for Florence the doom of Sodom and Gomorrah. Among those who most ardently embraced his cause was Bartolommeo, one of his earliest adherents. Albertinelli, on the contrary, joined the opposing faction and openly scoffed at the Piagnoni, or Mourners, as the followers of Savonarola were derisively called. The rupture was of short duration, however, and before long the artists were again working in partnership.

The tide of popular feeling turned against Savonarola when Albertinelli and his friend were respectively twenty-four and twenty-three years of age. Although engaged on decorating the walls of a chapel adjoining the Hospital of Santa Nuova, Florence, with a great fresco of the "Last Judgment", a worthy prelude to the 'Disputa' of Raphael Bartolommeo, who had planned and drawn in the whole composition, left the remainder of the work to Albertinelli, and himself became a Dominican novice. So capably did Albertinelli carry the fresco to completion that its faded and almost ruined remains, now removed to the gallery of Santa Maria Nuova, offer one of the noblest and most impressive examples of monumental composition.

In 1509, or some eight years later, it is recorded that an artist was introduced into the quiet monastery of San Marco, where Fra Bartolommeo, having concluded his novitiate, appears to have resumed painting. The artist is known to have been Albertinelli. He died toward the end of 1515, in his forty-second year, preceding by two years the death of Fra Bartolommeo.

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