Piero di Cosimo

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Piero di Cosimo (14621521)

Italian painter. Born in Florence, where he lived his entire life, he trained in the workshop of Cosimo Rosselli, whose name he took as his own (his given name was Piero di Lorenzo). In 1482 Cosimo traveled to Rome with Rosselli to assist in the painting of the Sistine Chapel. There Cosimo painted a landscape background for Rosselli's fresco of The Sermon on the Mount.

Cosimo specialized in painting scenes from classical mythology, such as The Death of Procris. His vivid imagination inspired the creation of original figures, half human and half animal, set in a naturalistic landscape and serving as symbolic representations of ideas and emotions. Inspired by the ancient Roman writer Vitruvius, Cosimo painted imaginary scenes from a time when the human race led a simpler existence; these works include Hunting Scene, Return from the Hunt, Discovery of Honey, and Discovery of Wine. Such works, which were painted outside the tradition of religious painting, came under official disapproval during the reign of the fanatic Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola in Florence. Cosimo reacted by taking up Christian subjects, including The Immaculate Conception and The Holy Family. Cosimo also was well known in Florence as a portrait painter, with his most famous work in this vein being the Portrait of Simionetta Vespucci, a picture of the mistress of Giuliano de' Medici. He also trained many of the best Florentine artists of his time, including Andrea del Sartro.

See Also: Florence; Sartro, Andrea del; Savonarola, Girolamo

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Piero di Cosimo (pyĕ´rō dē kô´zēmō), 1462–1521, Florentine painter, whose name was Piero di Lorenzo. He adopted the name of his master, Cosimo Rosselli, whom he accompanied to Rome in 1482 and assisted in the decorating of the Sistine Chapel. His religious works have charm, but more important are his animated mythological scenes. Commissioned by the Florentine Francesco Pugliese, he painted many works depicting life in a primitive, mythological state. Among these pictures are the Hunting Scene and the Return from the Hunt (both: Metropolitan Mus.); Discovery of Honey (Worcester Mus.); Discovery of Wine (Fogg Mus., Cambridge); and Vulcan and Aeolus (National Art Gall. of Canada, Ottawa). Other well-known works by Piero are the Death of Procris (National Gall., London) and Simonetta Vespucci (Chantilly). The influence of Leonardo da Vinci is evident in some of his work, including the Portrait of a Woman with a Rabbit (Yale Univ.). Piero was also well known as a designer of popular theatricals and processions.

See biography by R. L. Douglas (1946); S. J. Freedberg, Painting of the High Renaissance (1961).