Last year on this day, I think I was a little harsh to Fra Bartolomeo who was born on this day in 1472. While I did say that “he is insanely great,” I also said that I wasn’t much of a fan. Even then, though, I admitted that the problem wasn’t with him. It was the times. It was the early days of perspective painting and religious painting especially had lost a lot of its pizzazz. But the truth is that Bartolomeo did amazing work within the constraints of the time. And really: I like him more than Leonardo da Vinci.
Two things really stand out in his work. The first is his absolutely impeccable design. That is something that is sorely missing in other painters of the period. You can see it in Madonna in Glory with Saints above. But it is found throughout his work. In fact, I haven’t seen a single painting of his that wasn’t exquisitely composed. And here is another excellent example, Scene with Christ in the Temple:
What else is clear in this painting is the second thing that I love about his work: the use of light. Here is another example, St Mark Evangelist:
Happy birthday Fra Bartolomeo!