On this day in 1474, the great High Renaissance painter Mariotto Albertinelli was born. He was a colleague of Fra Bartolomeo, who I also quite admire. There was a time that I didn’t much care for these early perspective painters. But I don’t really know what I was thinking. It was a wonderful time for art. I think in the past I’ve gotten bogged down in seeing different periods of art relative to other periods. This caused me to focus on what one period didn’t have that another did.
Although he worked closely with Bartolomeo, Albertinelli reminds me more of Leonardo da Vinci. Consider this untitled painting, and see if you don’t agree. But over time, I’ve come to see Leonardo as the Orson Welles of his day: brilliant but never finishing a work that completely satisfies, or at least lives up to the transcendence of parts of his work. At his best, Albertinelli is preferable. I don’t think that Leonardo ever created a work that is as stunning as The Virgin and Child with the Infant Baptist:
Albertinelli was known for his lively personal life — in stark contrast to his religious painting. Being more interested in living than creating, he found much of the details of painting taxing. In addition, he did not like the criticism that his work got from fellow painters. So at one point, despite his success as a painter, he gave it up and opened a tavern. But he only stuck with this for a short time before going back to painting. I find this charming; I love restless people.
Albertinelli died at the age of 41. The only explanation I can find is that he worked himself to death. He was working away from home, and it seems more likely that he simply got sick. He did manage to have himself delivered back to Florence, just in time to die.
Happy birthday Mariotto Albertinelli!