Sublime, Exhilarating del Sarto

Rowland_1-121715Ingrid D. Rowland at The New York Review of Books:

The Frick is a marvelous place to compare Andrea’s virtuosity with that of other great painters from the same Italian tradition. In contrast to an artist like Paolo Veronese, who paints with unrelenting intensity right to the very corners of his canvases, or Raphael, who can give a tiny background the same definition as the main event, Andrea concentrates his effort on a few central figures, or, as in the case of the scholar with the book that can also read as a block, on a face, leaving the rest in a pleasant haze. This uneven level of attention is surely what Vasari meant when he said that Andrea “lacked the elaboration, grandeur, and versatility of style that can be seen in others.” His paintings, beneath their ravishing surfaces, are rather stark and simple compared with the pinpoint detail of Bronzino, or Vasari’s crowd scenes, or Pontormo’s intricately interlaced compositions.

Like his contemporary Baccio Bandinelli, a divine draftsman and a competent sculptor, Andrea del Sarto may be one of those Florentine artists for whom drawing had become an activity that Giorgio Vasari was perhaps the first to understand in all its significance: the most essential act in the mysterious process of making art.

more here.