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Rosselli, Cosimo (Italian, 1439 after 1506)

Cosimo Rosselli (1439 – after 1506) was a Florentine artist, of the Quattrocento Italians, who trained under Neri di Bicci (1419 – 1492). He painted for Churches in Florence, including the Sant’Ambrogio, and the Church of the Annunziata, as well as for churches in Lucca and Fiesole. In 1480, he was among a group of artist invited by Pope Sixtus IV (1414 – 1484) to work on frescos in the Sistine Chapel. He had two prominent pupils and assistants, Piero di Cosimo (1462 – 1522) and Fra Bartolomeo (1472 – 1517).

Born in Florence, at the age of fourteen he became a pupil of Neri di Bicci, and in 1460 he worked as assistant to his cousin Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli. A first youthful work of Cosimo mentioned by Giorgio Vasari is the Assumption of the Virgin altarpiece in the third chapel on the left of the nave in Sant'Ambrogio in Florence. In the same church, on the wall of one of the chapels, is a fresco by Cosimo which Vasari praises highly, especially for a portrait of the young scholar Pico of Mirandola. The scene, a procession bearing a miracle-working chalice, is painted with vigor and less mannerism than most of this artist's work. A picture painted by Rosselli for the church of the Annunziata, with figures of SS. Barbara, Matthew and the Baptist, is in the Academy of Florence.

Rosselli also spent some time in Lucca, he painted several altar-pieces for various churches. A picture attributed to him, taken from the church of St. Girolamo at Fiesole, is now in the National Gallery of London. It is a large retable, with, in the center, St. Jerome in the wilderness kneeling before a crucifix, and at the sides standing figures of St. Damasus and St. Eusebius, St. Paula and St. Eustochium; below is a predella with small subjects. Though dry and hard in treatment, the figures are designed with much dignity.

The Berlin Gallery possesses three pictures by Rosselli: The Virgin in Glory, The Entombment of Christ, and The Massacre of the Innocents. In 1480 Rosselli, together with the chief painters of Florence, was invited by Pope Sixtus IV to Rome to assist in the painting of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Three of these were uted by him The Destruction of Pharaohs Army in the Red Sea, Christ Preaching by the Lake of Tiberias, and The Last Supper. Rosselli's Sistine frescoes were partly painted by his assistant and son in law Piero di Cosimo, who was so called after Cosimo Rosselli. His chief pupil was Fra Bartolomeo.

According to Vasari, Rosselli died in 1484, but this is a mistake, as his is known to be living on 25 November 1506.

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