Jacopo Carucci (May 24, 1494 – January 2, 1557), called Pontormo after his Tuscan birth town, was one of the leading 15th-century Mannerist painters and portraitists from the Florentine School. Active at the height of the Florentine Renaissance, his work is remembered as marking a significant shift in style from the perspectival regularity of the Renaissance. His sensitivity and interest in the human state of mind distinguished him from the trends of the Mannerist movement, today ranking him among one of the most groundbreaking artists of his time.
A painter’s son, the young Jacopo studied under prominent figures in Florentine society such as Leonardo da Vinci and later Mariotto Albertinelli, Piero di Cosimo, and finally, in 1512, with Andrea del Sarto, a leading Mannerist painter with whom he did not remain long.
Pontormo painted in and around Florence, often supported by Medici patronage, though his time in Rome largely influenced his later style. His work is known presenting haunted, stylized faces and elongated bodies, a feature most noted in one of the painter’s earlier works, a fresco depicting the Visitation of the Virgin and Saint Elizabeth, with dancelike, poised figures, painted from 1514 to 1516.
Conversely, the agitated and emotionally driven piece in San Michele Visdomini in 1518 signaled a dramatic departure from the balance and tranquility that often characterize the style of his predecessors. Hallmarks of his mature Mannerist style were already present: energy over physicality, beautiful linear rhythms, restless movement, ambiguous space, vivid colors, qualities that have come to characterize the artist as a singular painter of his time.
Unlike most of his Florentine contemporaries, Pontormo also studied northern European artists, particularly Albrecht Dürer, making a significant shift in his style. Under the profound influence of his friend Michelangelo, Pontormo developed more sculptural form and refined his emotionalism, as the artist was primarily a religious painter. During his last ten years, he became increasingly reclusive and disturbed, even shunning Agnolo Bronzino, who in both life and art has been close to an adopted son.
Today, Pontormo’s works are found in leading museums in Florence and worldwide, with several frescoes and paintings displayed in Empoli, Poggio a Caiano and other areas of the Florentine countryside.