Italian painter and draughtsman (known as Il Volterrano). He was the son of Guasparri Franceschini, a sculptor in alabaster, and studied first with the local artist Cosimo Daddi (d 1630) then, from 1628, in Florence with Matteo Rosselli.
His first works, which are still in Volterra, are the Purification of the Virgin (1630; Volterra, S Agostino), Elijah and the Angel (1631; Volterra, S Giusto Abbey Church) and the Assumption of the Virgin (1631; Volterra, Archv Capitolare); they reveal the influence of Rosselli and elements of Mannerism.
The pupil of Rosselli and also influenced by Pietro da Cortona, he is considered to be the initiator and most important representative of the Baroque style in Tuscany. He found great favour with the Medici family and was given a scholarship for two journeys to Parma and Venice. Much later, in 1652, he also went to study contemporary painting in Rome.
A brilliant decorator and specialized in fresco painting - the Orlandini Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore, the Chapels of Santa Cecilia and Santa Lucia in the Santissima Annunziata (1642) - he was to produce his finest work in the Medici villas of Castello and Petraia where, between 1636 and 1648, he painted the Moments of Glory of the Medici family and of the Order of the Knights of St Stephen. An entire wing of the Pitti Palace bears his name (the Quarters of Volterrano), starting from the Room of Allegories where, from 1634 onwards, the painter frescoed a glorification of the Grand Duchess Vittoria della Rovere, the wife of Ferdinando II. Today this Room also contains one of his most famous canvases, the Jest of Arlotto the Parish Priest, a spirited and grotesque subject that is an excellent example of his popular and lively style of work.
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