Essay

Francesco Salviati’s Lamentation for Venice and the Origins of the Disegno/Colorito Debate

Mattia Biffis

Published online:

17 Jun 2021

Abstract

Abstract

The Lamentation over the Dead Christ is unquestionably one of the most important works that Francesco Salviati produced during the roughly 18 months that he spent in Venice between 1539 and 1540. Yet, despite its importance, scholars have seldom discussed in any detail the work and its significance to Salviati’s famous sojourn in northern Italy. Recognizing Francesco’s physical presence in the work, this essay reconsiders this painting as an emphatic statement on the local school of painting. This provocative visual statement is related to the artist’s experience in the city, serving as a gauge of his negative attitude to the local environment, which is confirmed by his own remark that living in Venice “was not for men of drawing.” The Lamentation appears therefore as an early critical contribution in the form of an altarpiece to the long-standing debate over disegno and colorito.

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