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GIOVANNI CAPASSINI

1510 Florence - Tournon 1579

Giovanni Capassini, also known as Jean Capassin is a mannerist Florentine artist. He began his career in Italy, simultaneously as Francesco Salviati and Giorgio Vasari, which he met in the studios of Baccio Bandinelli and Raffaello da Brescia. He later encountered Andrea del Sarto for whom he became an apprentice and was referred to as ‘Nannocio’ by del Sarto and Vasari as a means of abbreviating ‘Giovanni’.

Discovered in Rome by the Cardinal François de Tournon (1489-1562), Capassini was appointed as one of his main painters. An advantageous uncovering leading him to move to Tournon (France) in 1553, where he first married Marguerite de Myet, then undertook the responsibility of becoming master of several students. In 1564, Capassini worked with the assistance of his students on the decoration for the Entrées du roi Charles IX et la reine Catherine de Medicis in Aix-en-Provence (France) and then settled in Lyon where his presence is documented between 1565 and 1568. As ‘protégé’ of the Cardinal de Tournon, he enjoyed high prominence and came across artists such as Corneille de Lyon, whom seemingly had a perceptible influence on his work. His escalating success and notoriety amongst the entitled society, granted him the position of master of the assistant Etienne de Martellange, during his stay in Lyon. Capassini’s works conjure an apparent Florentine mannerist influence visible in his oldest known work Le Triptyque de Tournon signed and dated 1555. The left panel Les pèlerins d’Emmaüs, today conserved at the Louvre Museum, and La Résurrection as well as Le cardinal François de Tournon and Le Noli me tangere, exhibited at the Lycée Gabriel Faure in Tournon, equally emphasize the Florentine style revealed through Capassini’s choice of colors (pink, yellow and green), contorted poses and his use of perspective. Surrounded by French artists, he was to some degree influenced by local techniques, a conscientious blend distinctly visible in his monumental portrait of the cardinal François de Tournon on the right panel of the triptych. Capassini painted several other portraits displaying the double Florentine and French influence such as the Portrait d’un jeune étudiant, or the Portrait de Nicolas Roussel.

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