Friday 22 February 2013

Lorenzo di Credi, Verrocchio’s Favourite Pupil.

Pietro Perugino, Portrait of Lorenzo di Credi, 1488, oil on panel transferred to canvas, original panel: 44 x 30.5 cm (17 5/16 x 12 in.) overall (with added border): 46 x 32.5 cm (18 1/8 x 12 13/16 in.) framed: 63.8 x 50.8 x 5.7 cm (25 1/8 x 20 x 2 1/4 in.), National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Biagio d’Antonio, Portrait of a Young Man, probably 1470, tempera on wood, 54.3 x 39.4 cm,  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Lorenzo was a fellow pupil of Leonardo in Verrocchio's workshop and he seems to have stayed there until Verrocchio's death in 1488, managing the painting side of his master's multifaceted business. Credi was a very fine craftsman, but he lacked a distinctive style. A panel in Washington, by Perugino, another of Verrocchio’s charges, is thought to be a portrait of the artist; though its inscription “Lorenzo di Credi, most excellent painter, 1488, age 32 years, 8 months" is a sixteenth-century addition. Washington NGA speculates that the sad mood of this portrait may suggest it was done just after Verrocchio’s death in 1488, the date on the panel.[1] Verrocchio certainly influenced this portrait, and his influence was felt by other painter’s such as Biagio d’ Antonio- linked with Botticelli- with his Portrait of a Young Man (Washington); though Credi’s Portrait of a Young Woman (New York) seems to show knowledge of Leonardo’s Ginevra di Benci portrait- it may even be Ginevra in the Met portrait.[2] 

  Lorenzo di Credi, Portrait of a Young Woman, c. 1490-1500, oil on wood, 58.7 x 40 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci, 1474-78, Oil on wood, 38,8 x 36,7 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington.
 Credi was said to be Verrocchio’s favourite pupil, perhaps because he was more amenable than the tempestuous Leonardo who must have been more a force of nature than a student. Lorenzo’s early work betrays the influence of Leonardo's youthful style. Later he absorbed some of the ideas of the High Renaissance (Communion of Mary Magdalen, Esztergom), and some of his work recalls Fra Bartolommeo. Credi had several pupils and seems to have had a fairly successful career with his art, which is unfairly dismissed as mediocre. Though not an artistic genius like Leonardo, Credi was capable of producing memorable work , and he was a fine draughtsman. Towards the end of the quattrocento, Credi got swept up in the whirlwind of  Savonarola’s teachings, and it thought that in 1497 he destroyed all his pictures with profane subjects, although some of this group survived like the so-called “Venus” in the Uffizi, which was discovered in the 19th century inside a Medici villa. 

Lorenzo di Credi, Venus, 1493-94, Oil on canvas, 151 x 69 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.