Domenico Beccafumi

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Domenico Beccafumi
Self-portrait, c. 1525–1530
Domenico di Pace Beccafumi

DiedMay 18, 1551
Siena, Italy
Known forPainter

Domenico di Pace Beccafumi (1486 – May 18, 1551) was an Italian Renaissance-Mannerist painter active predominantly in Siena. He is considered one of the last undiluted representatives of the Sienese school of painting.


Domenico was born in Montaperti, near Siena, the son of Giacomo di Pace, a peasant who worked on the estate of Lorenzo Beccafumi. Seeing his talent for drawing, Lorenzo adopted him, and commended him to learn painting from Mechero, a lesser Sienese artist.[1] In 1509 he travelled to Rome, where he learned from the artists who had just done their first work in the Vatican,[2] but soon returned to Siena. However, while the Roman forays of two Sienese artists of roughly his generation (Il Sodoma and Peruzzi) had imbued them with elements of the Umbrian-Florentine Classical style, Beccafumi's style remains, in striking ways, provincial. In Siena, he painted religious pieces for churches and mythological decorations for private patrons,[2] only mildly influenced by the gestured Mannerist trends dominating the neighbouring Florentine school. There are medieval eccentricities, sometimes phantasmagoric, superfluous emotional detail and a misty non-linear, often jagged quality to his drawings, with primal tonality to his colouration that separates him from the classic Roman masters.

Pavement of Duomo di Siena[edit]

In addition to painting, he also directed the celebrated pavement of the cathedral of Siena from 1517 to 1544, a task that took over a century and a half. The pavement shows vast designs in commesso work—white marble, that is, engraved with the outlines of the subject in black, and having borders inlaid with rich patterns in many colours. From the year Beccafumi was engaged in continuing this pavement, he made very ingenious improvements in the technical processes employed and laid down scenes from the stories of Ahab and Elijah, of Melchisedec, of Abraham[3] and of Moses. He made a triumphal arch and an immense mechanical horse for the procession of the emperor Charles V on his entry into Siena.[2]

Critical assessment and legacy[edit]

The beheading of Spurius Cassius Vecellinus, fresco (1532–1535), Palazzo Pubblico, Siena

Compared to the equilibrated, geometric, and self-assured Florentine style, the Sienese style of painting edges into a more irrational and emotionally unbalanced world. Buildings are often transected, and perspectives are awkward. The setting is often hallucinogenic; the colours are discordant. For example, in the Nativity (Church of San Martino) hovering angels form an architectural hoop, and figures enter from the shadows of a ruined arch. In his Annunciation, the Virgin resides in a world neither in day nor dusk, she and the Angel Gabriel shine while the house is in shadows. In Christ in Limbo (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena), an atypically represented topic, Christ sways in contrapposto as he enters a netherworld of ruins and souls. S. J. Freedberg compares his vibrant eccentric figures to those of the Florentine mannerist contemporary Rosso Fiorentino, yet more "optical and fluid". While all the elements of the expected religious scenes are here, it is like a play in which all the actors have taken atypical costumes, and forgotten some of their lines.

In Medieval Italy, Siena had been an artistic, economic, and political rival of Florence; but wars and natural disasters caused a decline by the 15th century.[4] Stylistically, Beccafumi is among the last in a line of Sienese artists, a medieval believer of miracles awaking in Renaissance reality.

Holy Family with St. John

Partial anthology of works[edit]



  • Painting in Italy 1500–1600, S.J. Freedberg, (Penguin History of Art, 2nd Edition, 1983).


  1. ^ Hence an old nickname Il Mecherino, or sometimes written Meccharino, Meccarino, or Miccarino.
  2. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Beccafumi, Domenico di Pace". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 601–602.
  3. ^ a b "Study for the Figure of Abraham (Getty Museum)". Archived from the original on 25 November 2005. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  4. ^ Chisholm 1911.
  5. ^ "The Miraculous Communion of Saint Catherine of Siena (Getty Museum)". Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Saint Catherine of Siena Receiving the Stigmata (Getty Museum)". Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Trinity". Web Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on August 12, 2003.
  8. ^ "St. Paul". Web Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on December 8, 2004.
  9. ^ "Marcia". Archived from the original on 20 May 2008. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Stigmatization of St Catherine of Siena". Web Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on April 27, 2005.
  11. ^ "10b". Archived from the original (JPG) on 2006-01-10. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  12. ^ "St. Lucy". Archived from the original (JPG) on 2009-09-27. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Mystic Marriage of St Catherine". The State Hermitage Museum.
  14. ^ "spurius cassius vecellinus". Flickr. 2006-01-19. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  15. ^ "Domenico Beccafumi". Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  16. ^ "god". Flickr. 2006-01-25. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Uffizi Gallery Museum in Florence. Uffizi Tickets Reservation - The Uffizi Gallery". Archived from the original on 29 June 2001. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  18. ^ "Stolen Art". Los Angeles Police Department. Archived from the original on February 27, 2005.
  19. ^ "Moses and the Golden Calf". Web Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on February 14, 2005.
  20. ^ "La Prdication de saint Bernardin de Sienne". Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  21. ^ "Saint Antoine et le miracle de la mule". Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Saint Franois recevant les stigmates". Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  23. ^ "Birth of the Virgin". Web Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on March 8, 2005.
  24. ^ "Sito Prenotazioni Galleria Barberini - Domenico Beccafumi - Madonna col Bambino e San Giovannino". Archived from the original on 2015-03-07. Retrieved 2015-02-18.
  25. ^ "The Holy Family with Angels, c. 1545/1550". National Gallery of Art. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  26. ^ "Domenico Mecarino (Beccafumi) : Jésus-Christ : Saint Jean-Baptiste : Sainte Vierge : Saint Joseph : Image". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  27. ^ "Domenico Beccafumi - Angelo Portacero (Duomo di Siena, 1550)". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-02-18.
  28. ^ "Saint Peter". Cleveland Museum of Art. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  29. ^ "Domenico Beccafumi, artist". San Francisco Museums of Art. Archived from the original on April 1, 2009.

External links[edit]