A Rosso Work on View in Paris

Rosso Fiorentino (1494-1540)
Marriage of the Virgen, 1523
Oil on wood - 325 × 250 cm
Florence, Basilica of San Lorenzo
Photo : Italian Embassy

18/2/14 - Restoration - Paris, Italian Embassy - Currently in France for an exceptional visit, the Marriage of the Virgin by Rosso Fiorentino is on view at the Italian Embassy until next 28 February.
A recent restoration has fully revealed once again this Mannerist masterpiece. Directed by Maria Teresa Castellano, from the Istituto Superiore per il Restauro e la Conservazione in Rome, it first treated the support and the cross system, while an anoxia process [1] eradicated woodboring insects. The pictorial layer then recovered its vivid colors thanks to a thinning of the yellowed varnish and the elimination of former repaintings and touchups.

The Marriage of the Virgin was commissioned from Rosso Fiorentino by Carlo Ginori - hence the work’s nickname "Pala Ginori" - to ornate the chapel devoted to Mary and Joseph acquired by the family in 1520 in the basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence. Completed in 1523, the work remained miraculously in its original location until today.
The artist depicts the figures on a staircase, with the view looking up from below. He chose to represent Joseph as a young man, defying iconographic tradition. The characters placed around him have not all been identified. The young woman at the foot of the stairs on the right might be Saint Apollonia, holding the pincers of her martyrdom in her left hand ; on the other side, an older woman is perhaps Saint Anne, while the Dominican pointing out the scene with his finger appears to be Saint Vincent Ferrier. The altarpiece was praised by Vasari for whom Rosso had "such a refined sense of color and used such grace in varying the shades of the fabrics that his virtuosity in this art always elicited the greatest esteem". The author of the Lives... admired his "particularly graceful feminine figures with the whimsical and unexpected drapery of their clothing."
The composition recalls the frescoes at the Chiostro dei Voti, the Marriage of the Virgin and particularly the Visitation by Pontormo (around 1514-1516) [2]
A paper copy of the Pala Ginori, attributed to Antonio Circignani (1560-1620) resides at the Cabinet des Dessins at the Louvre. In fact, the Louvre is working in association with the Italian Embassy by presenting another Rosso in its galleries, The Challenge of the Pierides, selected as "painting of the month".

Visitor information : Hôtel de la Rochefoucauld-Doudeauville, Italian Embassy in Paris, 51 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris. Open free of charge to the public from 6 to 28 February 2104, every day except Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm (but visitors must arrive before 5:30 in order to enter).

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mardi 18 février 2014


[1] The anoxia treatment consists in placing a work in an envelope and emptying all oxygen by adding nitrogen. The lack of oxygen for three weeks results in the dehydration of larvae and insects, killing them off.

[2] An exhibition "Pontormo et Rosso, chemins divergents du manièrisme" will be held from 8 March to 20 July 2014 at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence.

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