Mariotto Albertinelli (1474 - 1515)
It was both the fortune and misfortune of Mariotto
Albertinelli, a distinguished, if not a great, painter of the Florentine school,
to have been closely associated during most of his maturity with Fra
Bartolommeo, to whose work his own is compared and not always to its advantage.
Albertinelli, the son of a gold-beater, and
born in 1474, was a year older than Bartolommeo, whose serious and gentle nature
was in marked contrast to the gay and somewhat boisterous disposition of the
older artist, but who, nevertheless, became his chosen and closest friend.
Associated in an apprenticeship that lasted six or seven years the two lads,
feeling that they had nothing more to learn from their teacher, formed a
partnership, rented a studio in common and became artists on their own account.
Doubtless, ventures a biographer, they spent much time in the Medici gardens,
where Lorenzo the Magnificent, then ruler of Florence, had collected many
valuable specimens of antique statuary, which were eagerly studied by the
Florentine artists of the time; but "while Albertinelli gave his whole attention
to copying these marbles, Bartolommeo studied also the works of Masaccio, of
Filippino Lippi and, above all, of Leonardo da Vinci. His progress was rapid,
and his influence over his friend in all matters pertaining to art, in spite of
their different dispositions, was so strong that most of Albertinelli's work
bears a strong resemblance to that of Bartolommeo."
Albertinelli appears to have been anything but fastidious in the choice of his
pleasures, was a tavern frequenter and a sort of Francois Villon of Florence. He
had as a protectress the wife of Pierre de Medici, whose portrait he painted,
and for whom he executed a number of pictures. The dissimilarity of his nature
and that of his partner artist was forcibly shown at the time Savonarola, the
renowned preaching friar and reformer, was predicting for Florence the doom of
Sodom and Gomorrah. Among those who most ardently embraced his cause was
Bartolommeo, one of his earliest adherents. Albertinelli, on the contrary,
joined the opposing faction and openly scoffed at the Piagnoni, or Mourners, as
the followers of Savonarola were derisively called. The rupture was of short
duration, however, and before long the artists were again working in
The tide of popular feeling turned against Savonarola when Albertinelli and his
friend were respectively twenty-four and twenty-three years of age. Although
engaged on decorating the walls of a chapel adjoining the Hospital of Santa
Nuova, Florence, with a great fresco of the "Last Judgment,"—"a worthy prelude
to the 'Disputa' of Raphael"—Bartolommeo, who had planned and drawn in the whole
composition, left the remainder of the work to Albertinelli, and himself became
a Dominican novice. So capably did Albertinelli carry the fresco to completion
that "its faded and almost ruined remains, now removed to the picture-gallery of
Santa Maria Nuova, offer one of the noblest and most impressive examples-of
In 1509, or some eight years later, it is recorded that an "artist-layman" was
introduced into the quiet monastery of San Marco, where Fra Bartolommeo, having
concluded his novitiate, appears to have resumed painting. The "artist-layman"
is known to have been Albertinelli. He died toward the end of 1515, in his
forty-second year, preceding by two years the death of Fra Bartolommeo.