(b. 1604, Firenze, d. 1667, Firenze)


Italian painter. After the initial apprenticeship with Jacopo Ligozzi, the young Florentine painter was taught by Matteo Rosselli and Domenico Passignano. The latter brought him to Rome, where Balassi worked under the protection of the Barberini and Pope Urban VIII. The powerful family commissioned him the Raphaellesque Transfiguration in Santa Maria della Concezione, dated 1630, and the Noli me tangere for San Cajo, influenced by Parmigianino (now Ente Cassa di Risparmio, Florence).

The artist was back in his home-town around 1634, where he worked for important families, such as the Corsi and the Medici. In 1648 he left in the neighbouring Prato the altarpiece St Nicholas of Tolentino Resuscitates the Birds (Prato, Museo Civico), one of his major works, showing his interest in Salvator Rosa, Poussin and echoes of his master Passignano. In 1652 a sojourn of Balassi in Vienna is documented, attending the famous General of the Empire Ottavio Piccolomini.

In his late works, Balassi, reminding us of the passion for Albrecht Dürer and of the activity as copyist affirmed by his biographer Filippo Baldinucci, tends to a meticulous and precise manner, stimulated by the painters of the early Renaissance. Such paintings have affinities with the refined style of his contemporary colleague Carlo Dolci, and of his older master, Jacopo Ligozzi, to whom Balassi's fascinating Queen of Armenia of the Galleria degli Uffizi, inspired by an older painting on panel by Alessandro Allori, has been previously attributed.