ALLORI, Alessandro
(b. 1535, Firenze, d. 1607, Firenze)

Pearl Fishers

Oil on slate, 116 x 86 cm
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

The Studiolo is a tiny chamber in the Palazzo dei Priori (Palazzo Vecchio), accessible by a hidden spiral staircase. It was dedicated to the geological, mineralogical and alchemical interest of Francesco I de' Medici, son and successor of Cosimo I. Its walls are lined with two tiers of oil paintings on slate or panel that act as doors for cupboards containing Francesco's scientific books, specimens, and instruments.

Alessandro Allori's contributions to the decoration of the Studiolo in the Palazzo Vecchio included the Pearl Fishers.

Allori was the follower of Agnolo Bronzino, and his style imitates the cool, smooth manner of his teacher. Exquisite male and female nudes, human and mythological, play about on rocks, dive off boats, and bring up shells overflowing with seawater and pearls. Over and over the figures quote Michelangelo (the central nude seen from the back comes straight out of the Battle of Cascina), but only in the most playful way. The echoes of the Deluge on the Sistine Ceiling are transformed by Allori's predominantly pink and blue colouring.