Pier Francesco Foschi (1502-1567) pittore fiorentino

November 28th, 2023 – March 10th, 2024

La Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze opens to the public on Tuesday November 28th, 2023, the first monographic exhibition in Europe dedicated to Pier Francesco Foschi (1502-1567), a Florentine painter, who trained in the studio of Andrea del Sarto, assisted Italian painter Pontormo, and whose long and successful career took place during the central decades of the sixteenth century.

The exhibition is curated by Cecilie Hollberg, Director of the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, Elvira Altiero, Art Historian Officer, head of the historical-artistic department of the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, by Nelda Damiano, who curated the Wealth and Beauty exhibition dedicated to the artist at the Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia (Athens, USA), and Simone Giordani, Professor of art history, scholar of Renaissance and late Renaissance Florentine painting and expert on the painter Pier Francesco Foschi.

“The objective of such an extensive and accurate exposition – says Cecilie Hollberg, Director of the Gallery – is to provide for the first time in Europe the tools to understand the artistic personality of a master like Foschi and his role in the context of the sixteenth century Florentine painting. Thanks to our exhibition, in addition to showing forgotten works, important restoration operations have been activated on paintings located in various places in the area, such as one of the altarpieces in the Church di Santo Spirito in Florence.”

The artist
Pier Francesco Foschi
was born in Florence to a family of painters. His father, from whom he presumably learned the first rudiments, was a member of Sandro Botticelli’s workshop. As Vasari recounts, he trained with Andrea del Sarto and his first works, in fact, are stylistically influenced by his teacher’s classicism: they reflect the grace of the drawing, the refined use of light and shadow and the boldness of the color.
His independent career began as early as the 1520s. Foschi received numerous commissions from prominent Florentine families, such as the Medici, the Pucci and the Torrigiani. Between 1536 and 1537 he belonged, with Bronzino and Jacone, to the assistants chosen by Pontormo for the decoration of the loggia of villa Medici at Careggi, commissioned by Duke Alessandro de’ Medici, and for that of villa di Castello, commissioned by Cosimo I. In 1539, he was involved in the creation of the temporary decorations erected to celebrate the duke’s wedding to Eleanor of Toledo. His success peaked during the 1540s, when he achieved the commission for three altarpieces for the important church di Santo Spirito, his only two works mentioned by Vasari. Along with Vasari, Bronzino, Michele di Ridolfo, Francesco da Sangallo and Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli, he was among the masters who were instrumental in the foundation of the historic Compagnia di San Luca in the Accademia del Disegno, between 1562 and 1563. In the last years of his life, still very active, he participated in the major collective undertakings promoted by the newly founded Accademia: the temporary decorations for the solemn funeral of Michelangelo and those for the wedding of Francesco I to Joanna of Austria. The painter died in 1567 and was buried in Santo Spirito in the presence of the Accademici.
Despite the success achieved during his lifetime, after his death, Pier Francesco Foschi fell into complete obscurity. Only in the twentieth century, with the rediscovery of Mannerism and its protagonists, did his name resurface more frequently in studies, at first with some philological contributions and then, in the middle of the century, with a brief seminal study by Roberto Longhi (1952). To date, the most relevant contributions remain the monographic articles by Antonio Pinelli (1967), indispensable for understanding Foschi’s artistic development, and that of Louis A. Waldman (2001), which added valuable information and chronological reference points for the retracing of his career.

The exhibition
The exhibition brings together approximately forty autographed works by Foschi, among paintings and drawings, including the altarpiece, The Holy Family with Young Saint John the Babtist (1526-1530), formerly present in the collections of the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, a pivotal painting to understand his early production an how he embraced the teachings of Andrea del Sarto.
It is divided into five sections which will delve into the main aspects of his prolific activity, starting precisely with his training with Andrea del Sarto up to his commissions for large altarpieces and numerous portraits, a genre in which he achieved considerable success.
We find an important nucleus of early studies drawn from the master’s models, along with juxtapositions between some of Andrea del Sarto’s originals and the replicas that Foschi made, comparisons that will serve to better understand his very personal declination of the del Sarto’s style. The exposition also features a selection of paintings intended for private devotion of the Madonna subjects, along with rare and precious works related to Old Testament themes, which highlight the influence that Pontorno had on his style.
In the section dedicated to altarpieces, some of the selected works allow the reunion of dismembered groups and preparatory studies, as in the case of the Madonna del Piano Altarpiece, made in 1539 for the convent of San Benedetto a Settimo (Cascina, Pisa).
The final chapter of the exhibition brings together a large number of portraits, a genre in which Foschi achieved considerable success. The painter approaches different typologies, from half-length effigies, intimate and penetrative in tone, to those with a large and solemn format, rich in symbolic elements or allusive to the social status of the characters depicted and their interests.
The works on display come from public and private museums, ecclesiastical institutions, art galleries and private collectors among the most famous in Italy and in the world: Galleria Borghese, Palazzo Spinola, Accademia Carrara (Bergamo), Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum (Madrid), Morgan Library & Museum (New York), Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), The Cleveland Museum of Art (Ohio).

For the occasion, thanks to the commitment of the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, in agreement with MiC – Ministry of Culture, important restorations of some paintings by the Florentine painter will be financed, such as those in the Basilica di Santo Spirito in Florence and in the Propositura of Saint Antonio and Jacopo in Fivizzano (Massa Carrara).

Pier Francesco Foschi (1502-1567) Florentine painter, open until March 10th, 2024, will be accompanied by an extensively illustrated scholarly catalog, published by Silvana Editoriale, which will include reviews and information for each painting on display.

The official App dedicated to the exhibition “Pier Francesco Foschi (1502-1567) pittore fiorentino” is available on Apple and Google stores:

Virtual Tour


November 28, 2023
April 14, 2024

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