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The Cover
July 9, 2003

Portrait of a Halberdier (Francesco Guardi?)

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2003;290(2):161. doi:10.1001/jama.290.2.161

In a city and at a time like no other, he was himself like no other. An apprentice of Leonardo, a friend of Michelangelo, and, eventually, a rival of Andrea del Sarto, the Italian Mannerist painter Jacopo Pontormo (1494-1556) was born, as his name suggests, in Pontormo, not far from Florence. His father was a painter, Bartolomeo Carucci, his mother Alessandra di Zanobi. Both died before the boy was 10. Left in the care of his maternal grandfather, he was orphaned twice more in rapid succession, first at age 12 when his grandfather died, and again when his grandmother died. Before her death, however, she took him to Florence, ensured his property rights there, and left him in the care of a relative. Shortly thereafter he became an apprentice to Leonardo da Vinci. The boy was apparently a prodigy. In a city of luminaries, Pontormo would become one of them, to be sure perhaps not the greatest, but certainly far from the least. And thanks to the gossipy Georgio Vasari, who in vivid detail (and with some relish, one suspects) recorded his behavioral peculiarities in his Lives, Pontormo is also remembered as one of the more colorful of Florence's numerous eccentrics. While Vasari's lengthy entry on Pontormo contains many descriptions and locations of his works that would not have been otherwise available, one suspects that Vasari also enjoyed "the human interest angle" he injected into his stories.

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