The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist

Pierfrancesco FOSCHI (Florence, 1502 - Florence, 1567)

Biography

The Florentine Mannerist painter Pierfrancesco di Jacopo Foschi (formerly, and incorrectly, known as Toschi) was a pupil of Andrea del Sarto, according to the brief mentions of him in Giorgio Vasari’s Vite, and indeed a number of copies by him of works by Sarto are known. He appears to have been working as an independent artist by around 1529, when he is recorded as sharing a studio with his father in Florence. Foschi was a younger contemporary of the painter Jacopo da Pontormo, whom he assisted on the frescoes for the loggia of the Medici villa at Careggi in 1536. He also worked on some of the temporary decorations erected in Florence to celebrate the marriage of Cosimo de’ Medici to Eleanora of Toledo in 1539, and that of Francesco de’ Medici to Giovanna of Austria in 1565. Foschi received commissions from important clerics and members of the Florentine nobility, and produced altarpieces for several churches in Florence, Pisa and elsewhere in Tuscany. As one modern scholar has noted, his religious paintings are characterized by a ‘simplicity and directness…a didactic clarity which only increased over the course of his long career as his style became more severe, sombre and monumental.’ Perhaps the artist’s best known works are three altarpieces – an Immaculate Conception with Saints Jerome, Augustine, Anselm and Bernard, a Resurrection of Christ and a Transfiguration – painted between 1540 and 1546 for the Florentine church of Santo Spirito. Foschi may also be noted for his portraiture, of which he was among the finest exponents in Florence in the 1530s and 1540s. His portraits, which often display a particular psychological insight, reflect the influences of Pontormo, Agnolo Bronzino and Franceso Salviati. One of the founders of the Accademia del Disegno in Florence in 1563, Foschi counted among his pupils Maso da San Friano.