NALDINI, Giovan Battista
(b. ca. 1537, Fiesole, d. 1591, Firenze)

Biography

Italian painter and draughtsman. He was the artistic heir of Jacopo Pontormo, with whom he trained from 1549 to 1556. While maintaining an allegiance to the ideals of Andrea del Sarto and Pontormo, he also worked in the vocabularies of Bronzino and Vasari. From these sources he forged an individual style of drawing indebted to del Sarto in its loose handling of chalk and reminiscent of Pontormo in its schematic figures defined by firm contours and modelled with loose hatching or spots of wash. There are an analogous stylization and an expressive freedom in his treatment of serpentine figures, which are sculptural in form but painterly in detail, arranged in compact compositions with concentrated lights revealing passages of warm yellows, reds and greens. Particularly characteristic is the Christ Carrying the Cross (1566; Florence, S Maria Assunta), which is distinguished in its colouring and expressive figures from the chill linearity and metallic forms of Bronzino, Vasari and Alessandro Allori.

Naldini spent his early years studying under Pontormo before spending some time in Rome, where he studied the later works of Raphael and his students. Upon his return to Florence he worked with Giorgio Vasari on the decoration of the main rooms of the Palazzo Vecchio and is perhaps best known today for his participation with the other leading Florentine painters of the day in the groundbreaking decorative scheme from 1570-72 for the studiolo of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The paintings in the scheme arguably represent the pinnacle of Florentine late Mannerism and Naldini's contribution, his depiction of Ambergris Gatherers and his interpretation of an Allegory of Dreams, were amongst the best received by contemporaries.