The biography of Jacopo Zucchi (1540 - 1596)

Jacopo Zucchi (c. 1541 – c. 1590) was an Italian painter of the Florentine school of the Mannerist style, active in Florence and Rome.

Zucchi first trained with Giorgio Vasari and helped him in decorating Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. He was an assistant to Vasari whose style he initially copied. Zucchi’s earliest drawing dates from a trip with Vasari to Pisa in 1561.

In 1564 Zucchi entered the Accademia del Disegno and contributed to the decorations erected for the funeral of Michelangelo. He helped with Michelangelo’s funeral decorations and assisted Vasari in the Vatican decorations from 1567 to 1572. He was also Vasari’s chief assistant for the Vatican decorations. Zucchi’s Mannerism of this period combines classicism, naturalism, and Northern European influences in compositions filled with graceful, attenuated figures in exaggerated yet elegant movement.

By 1572 Zucchi’s relations with Vasari may have soured. He moved to Rome, where he was appointed artist in residence to the Medici court. He became a member of the Roman school, losing even his Tuscan accent.

Moving to Rome in the early 1570s, he painted many paintings to his patron Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici in his Palazzo Firenze (1574), including those for the Studiolo in the Villa Medici in Rome. He also helped decorate, along with his brother, the apse and dome of Santo Spirito in Sassia with a fresco of the Pentecost. He painted the grand salon of the former Rucellai (now Ruspoli) palace in Rome with mythological genealogies. Two canvases, representing the Ascension and Resurrection, are housed in the church of San Lorenzo Martire in San Lorenzo Nuovo (Italy).

The Roman Mannerism that began with Raphael then enriched Zucchi’s work, giving his forms fullness, depth of space, and greater ornamental opulence. His frescoes in the Palazzo Rucellai and Palazzo di Firenze show Federico Zuccaro’s influence, to which Zucchi added his own lively design. About thirty drawings are attributed to Zucchi, including pen sketches, brush and gouache composition sketches, and decorative architectural drawings. He also made easel paintings and altarpieces.