Francisco de Holanda

Francisco de Holanda (originally Francisco d'Olanda), (born: Lisbon, c. 1517; died: Lisbon, 1585) was a Portuguese humanist and painter. Considered to be one of the most important figures of the Portuguese Renaissance, he was also an essayist, architect, and historian. He was a maternal nephew of Pope Adrian VI and a remote uncle of Deodoro da Fonseca, Sérgio Buarque de Holanda and his namesake Chico Buarque.

Francisco de Holanda began his career as an illuminator, following in the footsteps of his father, António d'Holanda, royal illuminator. He studied in Italy between 1538 and 1547, during which he frequented the circle of Vittoria Colonna, one of the notables of the Italian Renaissance who provided him with access to some of the great artists of his period, such as Parmigianino, Giambologna, and, most importantly, Michelangelo who introduced him to classicism.

Drawing of the Ponte de Sacavém by Francisco de Holanda from his De fábrica

Returning to Portugal, he obtained various commissions from the Cardinal-Archbishop of Évora, and of the Portuguese kings, John III (1521-1557) and Sebastian (1568-1578).

The esthetic values of the Renaissance were strongly expressed by Francisco, who stated that the main objective of the painter was to stimulate personal originality and to follow the link to nature (the pure mirror of the Creator) and the link to the ancients -- immortal masters of greatness, symmetry, perfection and decorum. Much of this was presented in his three-part treatise on the nature of art, On Ancient Painting (Da Pintura Antiga, 1548), especially in the second part which contains 4 dialogues, supposedly with Michelangelo.[1] Here his passion for classicism is brought to the forefront, as he communicates the essence of the work of Michelangelo and of the contemporary artistic movement in Rome.

Possessing a versatile intellect, Francisco de Holanda distinguished himself through his series of drawings, "Drawings of the Antiquities [of Italy]" (1540-1547), through his studies on the revival of the archaeological heritage of Rome and on Italian art in the first half of the 16th century.

Francisco was the creator of the facade of the Church of Our Lady of Grace (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça) in Évora. He also painted a number of portraits, not all of which survive.[2]

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