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Florence’s Accademia exhibits work by “Eccentric” Renaissance Painter Carlo Portelli

January 6, 2016
Carlo Portelli (d. 1574), Allegory of the Immaculate conception (1566), Galleria dell'Accademia

Carlo Portelli (d. 1574), Allegory of the Immaculate conception (1566), Galleria dell’Accademia

The 16th century Italian Renaissance painter Carlo Portelli, who worked largely in Florence, is the subject of an exhibition on view at the Accademia Gallery through April 30, 2016.  Carlo Portelli: Eccentric Painter between Rosso Fiorentino and Vasari  features some 50 paintings, drawings and documents.  According to art historian Lia Brunori, the exhibition’s curator, in an interview with Conceptual Fine Arts“‘this is the very first time in history that all the works known by Portelli share the room.”

"Carlo Portelli: Eccentric Painter between Rosso Fiorentino and Vasari" installation shot.

“Carlo Portelli: Eccentric Painter between Rosso Fiorentino and Vasari” installation shot.

Portelli studied with Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, according to Vasari’s Lives, and as curator Brunori notes, “the show stems from Portelli’s highly appreciated Allegory of the Immaculate conception (1566), a glorious altar piece that is permanently on exhibition at the Accademia Gallery, in the same room where also Michelangelo’s David is located. This extremely sensual painting, focused on the female yet eerily masculine nude figure who offers her back side to the viewer while staring at him with enigmatic eyes, is largely considered the artist’s masterpiece. ‘It is dated and signed,’ adds Ms. Brunori, ‘as just a few other works by Portelli are, and that is also why it is so important.'”

The interview with the curator adds:

Portelli is strongly influenced by artists more talented than him such as, for instance, Andrea del Sarto and Fra Bartolomeo, whose style can easily be spotted in Portelli’s paintings along with references to Bronzino, or Salviati. ‘But it wouldn’t be correct to affirm that he just copied these models – Ms. Brunori explains. Portelli was more that kind of artist who took inspiration, made crossovers, or re-enacted elements to produce something original and quite autonomous’.

Carlo Portelli (d. 1574), Allegory of Charity, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado.

Carlo Portelli (d. 1574), Allegory of Charity, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado.

The exhibition is accompanied by the first monograph on the artist, published by Giunti Editore.  According to The Florentine (which has a short YouTube feature about the exhibition): The show “sets out not only to draw attention to the Accademia’s own altarpiece but also to encourage the gallery’s visitors to discover an artist hitherto known only to experts, an artist who deserving more attention due to originality, imagination and his ability to translate inventive concepts into painting in the manner of Vasari.”

Carlo Portelli (d. 1574), Holy Mary with Child and Saint Lawrence and Saint Cecilia, (1540-1545), San Casciano in Val di Pesa (Firenze), pieve di Santa Cecilia a Decimo.

Carlo Portelli (d. 1574), Holy Mary with Child and Saint Lawrence and Saint Cecilia, (1540-1545), San Casciano in Val di Pesa (Firenze), pieve di Santa Cecilia a Decimo.

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