DANDINI, Cesare
(b. 1596, Firenze, d. 1657, Firenze)

Biography

Italian artist, part of a family of painters which made a significant contribution to the Florentine Baroque. The polished and elegant style of Cesare Dandini was continued by his younger brother Vincenzo Dandini (1609-1675). Their nephew Pietro Dandini was Vincenzo's pupil, and Pietro's two sons, Ottaviano (1681-1740) and Vincenzo (1686-1734), a Jesuit, worked as painters in Florence.

Cesare Dandini was a precocious artist, who trained first with Francesco Curradi, briefly with Cristofano Allori and then with Domenico Passignano (who returned to Florence in 1616). Our scant knowledge of his life comes from Baldinucci, who wrote that he was an exceptionally beautiful youth (Curradi's model for numerous Madonnas) and was offended by the scurrilous activities in Allori's studio, a reaction that accords with the sense of refinement in his art. He matriculated in 1621 in the Accademia del Disegno; of his documented paintings, the earliest known is a Pietŕ (1625; Florence, SS Annunziata, sacristy). By 1631, the year in which he painted the Zerbino and Isabella (Florence, Uffizi) for the musician Giovanni Battista Severi and the Virgin and Saints for SS Annunziata, he had acquired many patrons, notably Lorenzo de' Medici. He developed a theatrical, idealized style that was at once veristic, classicizing, harmonious in form and colour and restrained in movement and expression. He shared with Florentine contemporaries Jacopo Vignali and Carlo Dolci a devotion to the style initiated in the 1590s by Lodovico Cigoli, Gregorio Pagani, Jacopo da Empoli, Passignano and Curradi and refined in the 1610s and 1620s by Matteo Rosselli, Giovanni Bilivert and Allori (who was perhaps the most influential for Cesare).

His production included portraits in miniature on copper, salon pictures of half-length religious, secular and allegorical figures, which often appear to combine portraiture with thematic conceits, and large-scale portrayals of religious and literary themes. In his late works, such as the Conversion of Saul (1646-47; Vallombrosa, abbey church) and the Death of Cleopatra (private collection), he introduced more rhetorical gestures and animated movement, reminiscent of Pietro da Cortona and his Florentine contemporary Baldassare Franceschini.