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Francesco Primaticcio

1504-1570 Italy/Mannerism


Brief Biography-Francesco Primaticcio was born in Bologna in 1490 into an aristocratic family who wanted him to pursue a business career. Instead, he preferred to study design under Innocenzio da Imola and Bagnacavallo of Bologna. In Mantua, he was a disciple of Julio Romano, with whom he worked for six years doing both frescoes and oils. The Duke of Mantua, impressed by his work at the palace, introduced him to Francis I of France, who elected him to work at Fontainebleau. Primaticcio encountered Rosso Fiorentino at Fontainebleau. They endured a bitter rivalry to the extent that to part them, the duke sent Primaticcio to Rome to acquire antiquities as he also trusted his expertise. As a result, Primaticcio obtained many statues, busts, and moulds, which he brought back to France after Rosso died in 1540. The king appointed him Director of the Works at Fontainebleau. Through his dislike for him, the Florentine sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, who made the bronze relief, the Nymph of Fontainebleau, for the king, threatened to kill him like a dog. He worked in the style of Parmigianino, and his work appears as mannerist. He was also a sculptor and architect responsible for the design of the Valois Chapel at Saint-Denis and the decorations of the Galérie d’Ulysse at Fontainebleau. In 1563 he met Giorgio Vasari when visiting his hometown, Bologna. His post in Fontainebleau continued under Henry II, Francis II, and Charles IX.


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king francis I of
france and his sister

king francis 1 of france and his sister narguerite de navarre receive statues and paintings brought back from italy by primaticcio

the holy family with
saints elisabeth

the holy family with saints elisabeth and john the baptist

the rape of helen

the rape of helen

the royal staircase
at fontainebleau

the royal staircase at fontainebleau

staircase detail

 staircase detail

ulysses and

ulysses and penelope