Cristofano Allori

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Judith with the Head of Holofernes (1613)
Oil on canvas, 139 x 116 cm.
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence.

Cristofano Allori (17 October 1577 – 1 April 1621) was an Italian portrait painter of the late Florentine Mannerist school. Allori was born at Florence and received his first lessons in painting from his father, Alessandro Allori, but becoming dissatisfied with the hard anatomical drawing and cold coloring of the latter, he entered the studio of Gregorio Pagani, who was one of the leaders of the late Florentine school, which sought to unite the rich coloring of the Venetians with the Florentine attention to drawing. Allori also appears to have worked under Cigoli.

His pictures are distinguished by their close adherence to nature and the delicacy and technical perfection of their execution. His technical skill is shown by the fact that several copies he made of Correggio's works were thought to be duplicates by Correggio himself. His extreme fastidiousness limited the number of his works. Several specimens are to be seen at Florence and elsewhere.

The finest of his works is his Judith with the Head of Holofernes. It exists in two copies in the Pitti Palace in Florence and in the Queen's Gallery in London. The model for the Judith was his mistress, the beautiful Mazzafirra, who is also represented in his Magdalene; and the head of Holofernes is generally supposed to represent himself.

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