An artist who worked in printmaking, etching and painting, Battista Franco was an Italian Mannerist who studied the works of Michelangelo (1475 – 1564) closely. This was during his early twenties as he spent time in Rome, where he developed an interest in large scale allegorical works. His painting style mimicked that of Michelangelo a great deal, but his etching style was much more original in its light and spirited touch.
There is some mention that he trained in etching under an artist named Marc’ Antonio and produced over a hundred works. Many of them were etchings of paintings done by the Italian masters Raphael and Titian. One of his better known original etchings is The dead Christ supported by Angels, from 1557.
In his painted work is included a decorative piece in the Palace of Ottaviano de’ Medici that he completed with Giorgio Vasari (1511 – 1574). There is also his fresco in the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato, Arrest of John the Baptist, from 1541 and his allegorical piece from 1537, Battle of Montemurlo.
In 1552 Christ on the road to Calvary, is documented and now hangs in the Uffizi Gallery That same year he contributed to the ceiling fresco in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice. Also in Venice, in the church of San Francesco della Vigna, is his piece, A Baptism of Christ and in the Ducal palace (Doges Palace) on the Golden Staircase, is his Raising Lazarus. He painted several portraits for the Medici family and also designed Majolica, or Maiolica – tin-glazed ceramic pieces, for the Duke of Urbino.
Giovanni Battista Franco, was known as Battista Franco Veneziano, but sometimes called Il Semolei or simply Battista Franco.