The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Piombo, Sebastiano del

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PIOMBO, pē-ŏm'bō, Sebastiano del, Italian painter: b. Venice, 1485; d. Rome, 21 June 1547. His family name was Luciani. Having renounced music, to which he had early devoted himself, for painting, he studied under Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione, the latter of whom he especially imitated. Something of the fine coloring of Giorgione appears in the figure of Saint Chrysostom writing, in the altarpiece of the church of that name at Venice, which is Piombo's earliest fresco. In 1510 he went to Rome and became acquainted with Michelangelo, whose mastery of form he tried to make his own and to combine with his own Venetian skill in coloring. He also vied with Raphael, and the so-called ‘Fornarina’ in the Uffizi and the ‘Saint Dorothea’ at Berlin were both for a long time attributed to Raphael. When Raphael had painted his ‘Ascension,’ Sebastiano was induced by Michelangelo to attempt to surpass it by the ‘Raising of Lazarus,’ considered his greatest work. His ‘Martyrdom of Saint Agatha’ also ranks among the masterpieces of the Italian school. His chief merit, however, lay in single figures and portraits. His ‘Pietro Aretino’ and his ‘Clement VII’ are admirable likenesses and perfect in coloring. He was high in favor with Clement; who created him one of the keepers of the Papal seals, Frate del Piombo; hence his surname, the seals attached to the papal bulls being at that time of lead (piombo). This post made it necessary for him to assume the clerical habit, and from that time he painted hut little. He invented a peculiar method of painting in oil on walls, in which manner there is a ‘Scourging of Christ’ to be seen in Saint Pietro in Montorio.