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Altobello Meloni


ca. 1490 in Cremona
1543 in Cremona (?)

One Work by Altobello Meloni


Very little is known about the life of Altobello Meloni. His birthdate and the date of his death are not clearly recorded, and the reconstruction of his oeuvre is equally problematic. Only two groups of frescoes, which the artist painted in Cremona's cathedral in 1517 and 1518, are reliably documented: in December 1516 he was commissioned to depict the Flight into Egypt and the Massacre of the Innocents. Both paintings were completed before 15 August 1517. The commission for the second fresco campaign was issued on 13 March 1518, and included the Washing of the Feet, the Last Supper, Christ Praying on the Mount of Olives, the Arrest, and Christ before Caiaphas, as well as a series of scenes from the Passion. In the two earlier paintings from the childhood of Christ, especially, one sees a combination of influences from Venetian and German art, as well as a response to the works of Romanino. In his notes collected between 1521 and 1543, the Venetian collector and humanist Marcantonio Michiel identified Melone as Romanini's pupil in his description of a - lost - full-figure depiction of Lucretia that was at the time in the possession of the prior of San Antonio in Padua. Altobello's most expressive art appears to have been a response to works by the older local artist generation around Boccaccio Boccaccino and Tommaso Aleni, still infused with the ideals of the High Renaissance. It may have been the Venetian painter Marco Marziale, who lived in Cremona from 1500 to 1507, who introduced him to both Venetian and German art, in particular to Giorgione, Titian and Dürer. The influence of his supposed teacher Romanino doubtless heightened the effect of the art of Titian in the second decade of the sixteenth century. Altobello's Cremona frescoes already show his expressive use of light and shadow; this became even more prominent in the 1520s and appears to have prefigured the proto-Caravaggism of the Campi artist family. Yet in view of the uncertainty about the circumstances and length of Altobello Melone's life, the attribution of works supposedly executed in the late 1520s, the 1530s and the early 1540s is problematic. In these the influence of Romanino appears to have given way to that of Giulio Romano, who worked in Mantua beginning in 1524.