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Domenico Beccafumi

Domenico Beccafumi

*  1486 Cortine in Valdibiana Montaperti
† 1551 Siena

Domenico Beccafumi, one of the main representatives of early Tuscan mannerism, was born in a village near Siena in 1486, presumably on the estate Cortine in Valdibiana Montaperti. According to the biographer Vasari, his father was a simple farmer in the services of Lorenzo Beccafumi. The young painter, who was trained in the town of Siena, accepted his master’s name.
It seems fairly sure that Domenico Beccafumi spent the years before 1510 in Florence, for the period until 1512 there is proof for activities in Rome, followed by his return to Siena, which would henceon remain his center of acivity, only interrupted by stints to Pisa and Genoa.
Initially geared at Renaissance painters Pietro Perugino, Luca Signorelli, Leonardo, Rafael and Michelangelo, mannerist elements become increasingly obvious in paintings by Domenico Beccafumi from around 1514. Instead of calm and harmonious compositions, Domenico Beccafumi preferred a sort of unstable arrangement with an unusual perspective.
Domenico Beccafumi created effective works by means of light contrast and coloring. His style shows a tendency of exaggeration, proportional elongation and is charged with emotion. Additionally, a unique iconographic realization of religious and mythological subjects can be observed. Impulses from Sodoma, the other great Siena mannerist, are obvious. In 1518 the two painters cooperated.
By the late 1520s Domenico Beccafumi had become fully established in Siena. The artist endowed numerous churches with frescoes and paintings. Mosaics, woodcuts, copper engravings and even sculptures by his hand are in existence. Domenico Beccafumi’s style in these later days had become calmer and more subdued, which was presumably caused by his contact with Leonardo‘s art. A kind of disconcerting glow in a coloring that is at times cool and at times earthen and a subtle, almost spiritually charged lighting remained characteristic of Domenico Beccafumi’s paintigs. Domenico Beccafumi died at Siena in 1551.