Baldassare Franceschini (Il Volterrano)

1611 - 1690

Baldassare Franceschini, also known as ‘Il Volterrano’ after his native town of Volterra, was a highly prolific painter active in Florence during the 17th century. Although especially known for his activity as a fresco painter, he also produced a number of oil paintings.

The son of a sculptor, Franceschini first studied with Cosimo Daddi, a local artist in Volterra, before moving to Florence in 1628 and joining the workshop of Matteo Rosselli. Franceschini received his first major commission from Don Lorenzo de’ Medici, who asked him to decorate the courtyard of Villa La Petraia with scenes illustrating the history of the Medici family. This project took Franceschini 12 years to complete, but it secured his reputation among the most prominent Florentine families as the city’s leading fresco painter. In the 1650s he completed a series of frescoes for Vittoria della Rovere in the Sala delle Allegorie in Palazzo Pitti. Trips to northern Italy and to Rome allowed Franceschini to familiarise himself with the works of his contemporaries; in particular Pietro da Cortona, whose large-scale fresco decorations in Rome were to have a lasting influence on the artist for the rest of his life.