(b. 1494, Firenze, d. 1540, Paris)

Assumption of the Virgin

Fresco, 385 x 395 cm
Santissima Annunziata, Florence

Rosso's Assumption of the Virgin is found, along with works by Baldovinetti, Andrea del Sarto and Pontormo in the atrium of Santissima Annunziata.

Given the notoriety of the works of Michelangelo and Raphael recently completed in Rome, it is Rosso Fiorentino's credit that he was an artist of extreme individuality and independence. The works of these artists, along with those of Leonardo, must have appeared so perfect on their own terms that it was imperative to either break with them or totally succumb to them. In this early painting, which has suffered from weathering, Rosso already expresses his own unconventional interpretations.

Rosso's inventiveness is particularly clear in the upper section of the fresco portraying the Virgin rising to Heaven. He represented the Virgin ascending dramatically upwards into the golden firmament on lavender-coloured clouds with a chorus of angels at her feet. This daringly foreshortened, angled ring of naked children is surprisingly accomplished. Certain angels are seen in the same pose but shifted round, suggesting that Rosso painstakingly studied them first from purpose-made sculptural models in the studio.