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Art  &  Artist



Amico Aspertini



Aspertini Amico     Pages: 1

(b Bologna, 1474–5; d Bologna, 19 Nov 1552).

Italian painter, sculptor, illuminator and draughtsman. He was born into a family of painters, and his youthful facility reportedly astonished his contemporaries. His work developed in the Emilian-Ferrarese tradition of Ercole de’ Roberti, Lorenzo Costa the elder and, above all, Francesco Francia. Until the re-evaluation by Longhi, critical assessment of Amico’s oeuvre was over-reliant on literary sources, especially Vasari’s unsympathetic account of an eccentric, half-insane master working so rapidly with both hands (the ‘chiaro’ in one, the ‘scuro’ in the other) that he was able to finish decorating an entire house façade in one day. Longhi presented Amico as a creative master whose expressive intensity and sensitive use of colour rescued Bolognese painting of the early 16th century from sterile echoes of Raphael. Today Aspertini is viewed as an influential precursor of Mannerism, and his highly individual study of antiquity has been brought to the fore by the publication of his sketchbooks. Amico was not a mere imitator of ancient artists, but their imaginative rival, whether in his grotesques derived from the decorations of Nero’s Domus Aurea in Rome (e.g. the borders of his Adoration of the Shepherds in the Albani Hours, 1492–1503; London, BL, Yates Thompson MS. 29, fol. 15v), the pilasters for his fresco cycle (1506–8/9) in the chapel of S Agostino, Lucca, his monochrome reliefs all’antica (e.g. in St Sebastian, 1504–5; Washington, DC, N.G.A.) or in narrative works such as his major surviving fresco cycles (e.g. that of 1505–6 in the oratory of S Cecilia in S Giacomo Maggiore, Bologna, and the cycle of 1506–8/9 in S Frediano, Lucca).


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