A Florentine artist, Empoli, born Jacopo Chimenti, was a leading painting of what would become the reform movement from the Italian Mannerist style. Though, being from Florence and having trained there, much of his influence is from the Florentine Mannerists. Empoli’s only documented training was under Maso da San Friano (1536 – 1571) in Florence, though there is also mentioned that he may have worked with Giorgio Vasari (1511 – 1574).
Maso is sometimes said to be part of the artistic reform movement called the Contra-Maniera (Counter-Mannerism), or the proto-Baroque style. Other leading painters of this movement where artists like Santi di Tito (1536 – 1602) who influenced Empoli greatly, and also Alessandro Tiarini (1577 – 1668).
Empoli studied the works of mannerist painters such as Andrea del Sarto (1486 – 1531), Fra Bartolomeo (1472 – 1517), Jacopo Pontormo (1494 – 1557), and more significantly, Il Bronzino (1503 – 1572). Taking this early influence of the Florentine Mannerists, Empoli eventually infused his work with a Venetian style and that of painters like Lodovico Cardi, called Cigoli (1559 – 1613), of the early Baroque period.
A 2004 Retrospective Exhibit of Empoli’s work in his native city of Empoli, noted of his developing style, “…we can see a growth of form, a richer stroke, a wider angle in the compositions and perspectives”, (www.jacopodaempoli.it). This development is seen in his work included at the Uffizi Gallery, Sant’Eligio, of 1614. An even earlier work, Sacrifice of Isaac, from the 1590s, is also at the Uffizi Gallery along with its companion piece, The Drunkenness of Noah. His work gradually shifted further away from the influence of naturalism and moved towards the more reserved, academic painting of the early Baroque era of painting.
Additional to a number of religious pieces for churches in Florence, Tuscany and Venice, Empoli also painted still-life paintings. Some of his still-life commissions came from the Medici family, and were quite popular despite the disregard most Florentine painters felt for still-life at the time. His known students were Felice Ficherelli (1605 – 1660), of Tuscany and an artist named Virgilio Zaballi. His works are currently seen in museums around the world in Paris (The Louvre), Caen in France, Vienna, Florence (San Niccoló Oltrarno and the Uffizi), in churches in Pistoia and Venice and a few private collections.
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