Rosso Fiorentino (1494 - 1540)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

The Italian painter and draughtsman Rosso Fiorentino (1494–1540) was a major Florentine Mannerist, who was influential in Rome, Paris and Fontainebleau. In his youth Rosso was associated with the Florentine artist Andrea del Sarto. Another of del Sarto’s students, Jacopo da Pontormo, also influenced Rosso’s development (and vice versa).

Early on, Rosso acquired a reputation as a difficult character and an unpredictable painter who was interested in macabre imagery. Patrons were often unsatisfied with his works, which rejected the conventions of Renaissance classicism and showed the development of a personal idiom. Between 1524 and 1527 Rosso was in Rome, where much of his time was spent drawing (often for engravings). He was captured during the Sack of Rome in 1527, but escaped and spent the next three years in central Italy and Venice.

By late 1530 Rosso was established at Fontainebleau, France, where a group of artists and craftsmen had been brought together at the court of King Francis I. The French king reimbursed Rosso handsomely and involved him closely with court life, designing costumes, scenery and decorations for royal events.

Rosso’s greatest project was the decoration of the Galerie François I at the château of Fontainebleau, which was carried out under his supervision from 1536 to 1539. The decoration consists of allegorical and mythological frescoes celebrating the power of the King, framed by extravagant stucco grotesqueries.

According to the Renaissance writer and artist Giorgio Vasari, Rosso committed suicide after falsely accusing a friend and assistant of theft, ‘perceiving that he had not only falsely shamed his friend but also stained his own honour’.


Born: 8 March 1494 in Florence

Died: 14 November 1540

Nationality: Italian

Gender: Male

Works associated with Rosso Fiorentino in the RA Collection

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Associated archives

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