Born Andrea d'Agnolo, Andrea del Sarto was the most successful painter in Florence in the second and third decades of the sixteenth century; his art ex­emplifies the High Renaissance style and led the way into the development of Mannerism. Born in Florence, Andrea trained with Piero di Cosimo and estab­lished himself as an independent artist in 1508. Although his teacher worked in an early Renaissance style, Andrea's exposure to the art of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo,* and Raphael* in the early years of the sixteenth century led him to become a leading proponent of High Renaissance painting by 1510. He pri­marily produced religious works, both frescoes and panels, although he achieved some success as a portraitist as well; more than fifty paintings plus numerous drawings survive from his short career.
His earliest important commission was for a series of frescoes in the Church of the Scalzi in Florence; the first of these was painted perhaps as early as 1507, and he continued to work intermittently on the cycle until 1526. In 1510 Andrea was paid for five frescoes of the life of St. Filippo Benizi in the atrium of Santissima Annunziata in Florence. In both cycles we can see the remnants of an early Renaissance approach in the use of detailed landscapes and lively fig­ures, but Andrea also explored the High Renaissance formula of idealized nat­uralism: figures' anatomies were well understood; space was clearly indicated; and compositions were balanced and grand. At the same time, he imparted to the formula his own particular touch of intimacy and gentleness.
By the second decade of the century High Renaissance classicism was begin­ning to seem dated, and Andrea started to add a more expressive element to his art. A series of panel paintings produced between 1512 and 1518, including his most famous altarpiece, Madonna of the Harpies (Florence, Uffizi, 1517), showed him exploring more vivid colors, less predictable compositions, and more complicated figural poses.
Andrea was invited to Paris in 1518, where Francois I* established him as court painter. Upon his return to Florence a year later, he embarked on a new phase in his work, abandoning a naturalistic approach for a more calculated and artificial style that would lead into the elegant forms of Mannerism. The paint­ings of the 1520s are monumental compositions, the figures are heroic and grace­ful, forms are sculptural and expressive, and there is a marked use of chiaroscuro.
Andrea del Sarto's career bridged the gap from the early Renaissance tradition through the High Renaissance to Mannerism. While he was not one of the greatest innovators of the early sixteenth century, his notable skills, exquisite sensitivity, and depth of feeling led him to produce an art that served as a model for many later artists.
J. Shearman, Andrea del Sarto, 2 vols., 1965.
Jane C. Long

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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  • Andrea del Sarto — /ahn dray euh del sahr toh/; It. /ahn drdde ah del sahrdd taw/ 1. (Andrea Domenico d Annolo di Francesco) 1486 1531, Italian painter. 2. (italics) a dramatic monologue (1855) by Robert Browning. * * * orig. Andrea d Agnolo born July 16, 1486,… …   Universalium

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