The biography of Cristofano Allori (1577 - 1621)

Cristofano Allori (October 17, 1577 – April 1, 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 his father, he entered the studio of Gregorio Pagani (1558-1605) 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. Cristofano was working in a style that was more naturalistic and Baroque than that of his father.

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.

The finest of his works is his Judith with the Head of Holofernes (c. 1615). 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 he has depicted his own features in Holofernes' severed head. His extreme fastidiousness limited the number of his works. Several specimens are to be seen at Florence and elsewhere. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was one of the most famous paintings in Italy. The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford possesses portraits by both Cristofano and Alessandro Allori.