BECCAFUMI, Domenico
(b. ca. 1486, Castel Monaperto, d. 1551, Siena)

Biography

Beccafumi, Domenico (1486?-1551), Italian Mannerist painter, who worked in Siena. Originally named Domenico di Pace, and also called Il Mecherino, he took the name Beccafumi from his patron, a wealthy Sienese who sent him to study in Siena and Rome. he was, with Parmigianino, the most interesting of the non-Florentine Mannerist painters, and the last of the great Sienese. A member of the High Renaissance generation, his years in Rome (1510-12) saw the painting of Raphael's Stanze and Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling, both of which influenced him. In such works as the St Catherine Receiving the Stigmata (c. 1515, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena) he appears also to have been affected by Fra Bartolomeo, whose work was known in Siena. Soon after his return to Siena in 1513 his highly personal style displays characteristics usually associated with the Mannerism of the following decade; his use of strong effects of perspective and contapposto, his intensity of emotion, and his use of subtle, shot colour, as well as of lurid effects of light, are all stylistic features of central Italian painting of the 1530s and 1540s, which he probably knew as a result of the dispersal of Roman artists after the Sack of 1527.

Beccafumi designed 35 splendid mosaics from 1517 to 1546 for the pavement in Siena Cathedral, each mosaic depicting a different Old Testament scene. Beccafumi's best-known paintings are the ceiling frescoes of the Palazzo Publico in Siena and an altarpiece in the same building. Most of his best works, such as the Birth of the Virgin (c. 1543) are in Siena.