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Last chance to see 'Pontormo and Rosso: Diverging Paths of Mannerism' at Palazzo Strozzi
Jacopo Carrucci, known as Pontormo (1494-1557), Portrait of a Bishop (Monsignor Niccolò Ardinghelli?), c. 1541-1542. Oil on panel; 102 x 78.9 cm. Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1961.9.83

FLORENCE.- Palazzo Strozzi’s major exhibition entitled Pontormo and Rosso. Diverging Paths of Mannerism is devoted to the work of the two painters who were, without question, the most original and unconventional adepts of the new way of interpreting art in the Italian Cinquecento which Giorgio Vasari called the “modern manner”. This landmark exhibition has brought together for the first time a selection of some 80 works – paintings, frescoes, drawings and tapestries – accounting for 70% of the artists’ output. Loaned by major museums in Italy and around the world, many of the works have been especially conserved for the occasion.

Florence is the ideal place to stage such an exhibition as so many of the two artists’ most important works, which 20th century critics acclaimed as masterpieces of Mannerism, are to be found in the city and in the surrounding region of Tuscany. This extraordinary examination of their careers offered by the Palazzo Strozzi exhibition has been made possible by the generous collaboration of such eminent Italian museums as the Galleria Palatina in Palazzo Pitti, the Uffizi and the Museo di Capodimonte, and such leading foreign institutions as the National Gallery in London, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Musée du Louvre, Paris, and Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, without which such a complete retrospective of the two artists’ work could not have been possible.

Pontormo and Rosso both trained under Andrea del Sarto yet each maintained an independent approach and enormous freedom of expression. Pontormo, always a favourite with the Medici, was a painter open to stylistic variety and to a renewal of the traditional approach to composition. Rosso, on the other hand, was more tightly bound to tradition, yet was fully capable of flights of originality and innovation. He was also much influenced by Cabalistic literature and esoteric works.

The exhibition has set out to offer a new interpretation and a critical illustration of the cultural complexity and variety of expression of a movement conventionally labelled “Mannerism”, within which Rosso and Pontormo are generally held to be the two sides of the coin. Vasari, while situating them both within the “modern manner”, hinted at their different ideological and stylistic approaches. Thus, right from the outset and as the title implies, the exhibition clearly states that each of the two artists represents an independent approach in the complex political and cultural dynamics of the city.

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