(Passignano - 1559 Florence -1636)
St. Luke Painting the Virgin(Domenico Cresti known as "Il Passignano" -
Passignano around 1560 - Florence 1636)
Oil on canvas, 332x228 cm - Uffizi Gallery, Florence
The monumental Passignano's painting, kept in the stores of the Florentine Fine Arts Service (but it has recently been moved to the stores of "cenacolo San Salvi", where the restorers found it), is cited by Filippo Baldinucci in his work Notizie dei Professori del Disegno da Cimabue in qua (III, p. 439, edition by Fernando Ranalli, 5 Volumes, Florence 1845 - 1847). Baldinucci writes: " he started painting the canvas for the academy, with St. Luke portraying the Virgin Mary. The canvas, even though it has not yet been finished, is kept in the academy." The picture was painted by Passignano at the end of the 16th century. The subject is St. Luke while painting the Virgin, in the presence of people who lived in same period of the painter. The subject is clearly illustrated, according to the dictates of the Council of Trent ideology; equally explicit is the reference to the work client: the Academy of Drawing (an artists society whose patron saint is St. Luke). In the foreground you can see a mutilated statue which is inspired by the so-called Michelangelo's Dio Fluviale, a model made of clay, created for a figure of the Sagrestia Nuova. The model was given by Ammannati to the Academy of Drawings in 1583 and it remained there until 1853, when all the Academy pictures where moved to the Florentine galleries. Nowadays it is kept in Casa Buonarroti. The painting has an austere tone and sober colours, even though we can see some angels with delicate and gentle appearance.
In the head of child Jesus (which has delicate colours) or in the Virgin Mary, represented like a chaste queen, we can also see the influence of the Andrea del Sarto works study. Andrea del Sarto was recognized as a matchless master of the "modern manner", that is why all the artists of the second half of the 16th century carried the works study out. In this picture we can find idealized faces, painted to keep up the proprieties, but also naturalistic faces, which are real portrays of the painter or of the work clients. A preliminary work for the final picture -as the two paintings are very similar, we can imagine that the painter had a clear idea of his work since the beginning- is in the Uffizi collection. It is a beautiful sanguine which is part of Santarelli found (GDSU 2590S). An other sheet which has been related to the picture in the Florentine Gallery is now kept in the "Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe" in Rome, with the inventory number FC 130616. This picture was in the past attributed to a painter named Boscoli.