Cosimo Rosselli - Encyclopedia

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COSIMO ROSSELLI (1 439 - c. 1507), Florentine painter, was born in 1439. At the age of fourteen he became a pupil of Neri di Bicci, and in 1460 he worked as assistant to his cousin Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli. The first work of Cosimo mentioned by Vasari exists in S. Ambrogio, in Florence, over the third altar on the left. It is an "Assumption of the Virgin," a youthful and feeble work. In the same church, on the wall of one of the chapels, is a fresco by Cosimo which Vasari praises highly, especially for a portrait of the young scholar Pico of Mirandola. The scene, a procession bearing a miracle-working chalice, is painted with much vigour and less mannerism than most of this artist's work. A picture painted by Rosselli for the church of the Annunziata, with figures of SS. Barbara, Matthew and the Baptist, is in the Academy of Florence. Rosselli also spent some time in Lucca, where he painted several altar-pieces for various churches. A picture attributed to him, taken from the church of S. Girolamo at Fiesole, is now in the National Gallery of London. It is a large retable, with, in the XXIII. 24 a centre, St Jerome in the wilderness kneeling before a crucifix, and at the sides standing figures of St Damasus and St Eusebius, St Paolo and St Eustachia; below is a predella with small subjects. Though dry and hard in treatment, the figures are designed with much dignity. The Berlin Gallery possesses three pictures by Rosselli: "The Virgin in Glory," "The Entombment of Christ," and "The Massacre of the Innocents." In 1480 Rosselli, together with the chief painters of Florence, was invited by Sixtus IV. to Rome to assist in the painting of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Three of these were executed by him - "The Destruction of Pharaoh's Army in the Red Sea," "Christ Preaching by the Lake of Tiberias," and "The Last Supper." The last of these is well preserved, but is a mediocre work. Vasari's story about the pope admiring Rosselli's paintings more than those of his abler brother painters has probably little foundation. Rosselli's Sistine frescoes were partly painted by his assistant Piero di Cosimo, who was so called after Cosimo Rosselli. His chief pupil was Fra Bartolommeo. According to Vasari, Rosselli died in 1484, but this is a mistake, as his will exists dated 25th of November 1506 (see Gaye, Car. fined. ii. 457 n.).

For an account of Rosselli's Sistine frescoes, see Platner and Bunsen, Beschreibung der Stadt Rom, ii. pt. i.; and Rumohr, Italien. Forschungen, ii. 265.

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