Primaticcio, Francis

, an eminent Italian painter, was descended from a noble family in Bologna, where he was born in 1490. His friends, perceiving that he had a strong inclination for design, permitted him to go to Mantua, where he was six years a disciple of Julio Romano, who was then ornamenting the apartments of the palace | del Te. In this time he became so skilful, that he represented battles in stucco and basso relievo, better than any of the young painters at Mantua, who were Julio’s pupils. He assisted Julio in executing his designs and Francis I. of France sending to Rome for a man that understood working in stucco, Primaticcio was the person chosen for this service, and he adorned Fontainbleau, and most of the palaces in France, with his compositions. The king put such confidence in him, that he sent him to Rome to buy antiques, in 1540; on which occasion he brought back one hundred and fourscore statues, with a great number of busts. He had moulds made by Giacomo Baroccio di Vignola, of the statues of Venus, Laocoon, Commodus, the Tiber, the Nile, the Cleopatra at Belvidere, and Trajan’s Pillar, in order to have them cast in brass. After the death of Rosso-, who was his rival, he succeeded him in the place of superintendant of the buildings; and in a little time finished the gallery which his predecessor had begun. He brought so many statues of marble and brass to Fontainbleau, that it seemed another Rome, as well for the number of the antiques as for his own works in painting and in stucco. He was so much esteemed in France, that nothing of any consequence was done without him, which had relation to painting or building; and he even directed the preparations for all festivals, tournaments, and masquerades. He was made abbot of St. Martin at Troyes, and lived with such splendour, that he was respected as a courtier as well as a painter. He and Rosso taught the French a good style for, before their time, what they had done in the arts was very inconsiderable, and had something of the Gothic in it. He died in 1570, at the age of eighty, after having been favoured and caressed in four reigns.

The frescoes of the palace del Te by Primaticcio, cannot now, says Mr. Fuseli, with certainty be discriminated. Hia oil-pictures are of the utmost rarity in Italy, and even at Bologna. In the great gallery Zambeccari there is a concert by him, with three female figures, a most enchanting performance. The eye is equally charmed by the forms, the attitudes, the tone of colour, the breadth, taste, and ease of the draperies, and the original air of the whole. Nicolo Abbati, the partner of his works, though not his scholar, was left by him to terminate what remained unfinished of his plans in France. 1


Argmille, vol. II.-Pilkington by Fuseli.