VENUSTI, Marcello
(b. ca. 1512, Como, d. 1579, Roma)


Italian painter. Although he may have studied in Mantua, the earliest notices of the artist date from his participation in the workshop of Perino del Vaga in Rome in the 1540s. His first important commission, to copy Michelangelo's Last Judgement (Rome, Vatican, Sistine Chapel), came from Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in 1548; the small-scale painting (Naples, Capodimonte) is a valuable document of the appearance of the fresco before Daniele da Volterra added draperies. It secured Venusti's reputation and began his long friendship with Michelangelo, who allowed him to execute numerous small-scale paintings based on his designs, usually of religious subjects.

Venusti often added the settings to Michelangelo's figure studies and elaborated details to create devotional works with the intensity of miniature paintings. Among those recorded by Vasari and later sources are a large-scale Annunciation (Rome, San Giovanni in Laterano, sacristy), based on a Michelangelo drawing owned by Tommaso dei Cavalieri (Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi), and an Annunciation for the Cesi Chapel in Santa Maria della Pace in Rome. A St Jerome was engraved in 1558 by Sebastiano da Reggio (active c. 1550-1560).

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