Cherubino Alberti (Biographical details)

Cherubino Alberti (printmaker; painter/draughtsman; Italian; Male; 1553 - 1615)

Also known as

Alberti, Cherubino

Biography

Engraver and painter. (Biography from Gere and Pouncey) b. San Sepolcro 24 Feb. 1553 (Gualandi), d. Rome 18 Oct. 1615 (Baglione; Forcella, i, p. 378, no. 1455). Son of Alberto di Giovanni Alberti, brother of Alessandro (b. 1551) and Giovanni Alberti (b. 1558) and first cousin of Durante Alberti (q.v.).
The distinction between Cherubino, Alessandro and Giovanni is still far from clear. If Cherubino is now the best-known of the three, this is due solely to his prolific activity as an engraver: by their contemporaries Giovanni was the most highly esteemed, and was acknowledged to be the inventor of the combination of complicated effects of foreshortening with illusionistic perspective which is the characteristic feature of the Albertis' decorative schemes. Their treatment of figures and drapery, on the other hand, is less original, the predominant influence here being that of Cristofano Roncalli (see 1965,1203.1). Most of Cherubino's engravings are after other masters, but from those that are his own invention it is possible to form some idea of his artistic personality, at least as a draughtsman. A drawing like 1965,1203.1 conforms well enough with this idea to make us disinclined to ignore the contemporary attribution, but there seems no particular reason why the drawing of a circular composition with the arms of Clement VIII and figures of 'Justice' and 'Fortitude', which Voss published under his name ('Zeichnungen', pl. 26; now Scholz Coll., New York), could not equally well be attributed to Giovanni, or even to Alessandro. Even the study in the Uffizi (29°) for the vault of the Aldobrandini Chapel does not provide a secure basis for attribution of drawings to Cherubino, for though the decoration was not executed until 1609-11, the first payment for it was made only a fortnight after Giovanni's death. The latter could well have been involved in the design, and a complicated perspective exercise like the Uffizi drawing is on the whole more likely to have emanated from him than from Cherubino. (It may also be significant that the construction of the ceiling in the drawing differs from that in the chapel itself.)
According to Baglione, C. began his career as an engraver. Prints mostly 1571-90, and published by himself. The earliest date on any of the 189 plates or series of plates cited by Meyer is 1568. His engraving of the Zuccaro 'Assumption' in SS. Trinità dei Monti is dated 1571, so he was presumably in Rome by then. Van Mander (see Vaes, 'Roma: rivista di studi e di vita romana', ix (1931), p. 344) says C. and Giovanni worked with Raffaellino da Reggio (d. 1578) in the Vatican. He also says that C. had killed someone but was set free in recognition of his brother's standing as an artist.
1587, with Giovanni, decorated rear façade of Vatican Library (Baglione, p. 71; Orbaan, 'Bollettino' (1914), p. 68; repr. Hess, 'Studien', ii, pp. 111f.). Gualandi refers to a façade-decoration executed by C. in San Sepolcro in 1587 and says that in May 1589 he went to Florence "a dipingere nel Palazzo [Vecchio] in occasione delle nozze" of Ferdinand I and Cristina of Lorraine. He lists several works in San Sepolcro. 1591, decoration in Palazzo Ruggieri, Rome, completed (see 1965,1203.1). 1593, visited Naples (Gualandi). S. Silvestro al Quirinale, C. in collaboration with Giovanni decorated part of cappella maggiore and painted 'Angels' above the arms outside the chancel arch (Baglione; Abromson, 'Art Bulletin', p. 533, n. 21, figs. 5, 6).
All other major Roman commissions were for Clement VIII. Vatican, Sala Clementina: Jan. 1596, an order to make an advance payment to C. and Giovanni for decorating the Sala. 5 Feb., contract for vault: cartoons completed and painting begun by 14 March, vault bears the date 1600 (Abromson, op. cit., pp. 535f., nn. 24-7). Abromson (p. 546) publishes payments to C. and Giovanni (d. Aug. 1601) from 1600 to 1601 and to C. alone from 1601 to 1602, mostly for sala, which he believes to have been either the Sala Clementina or the Sala del Concistoro with the adjoining rooms. The 17th-c. annotator of Baglione (p. 70) says that the ceiling of the Sala Clementina was by Giovanni and everything below the cornice by Cherubino assisted by Baldassare Croce. Apr. 1604, C. received a final payment for his and Giovanni's work in Sala Clementina (Abromson, ibid.). W. Kirwin ('Paragone', 335 (1978), pp. J 57f., n. 106) claims to have discovered a group of 181 drawings, mostly by Giovanni and Cherubino Alberti, among the 'anonimi' in the Farnesina (fondo nazionale, vol. 2503). These include "several major drawings" for the Sala Clementina. S. Giovanni in Laterano, Canons' Sacristy. According to Gualandi, the vault was begun in 1592 by Giovanni in collaboration with Alessandro. The latter left Rome in 1594 (work valued in September 1594) and his place was eventually taken by Cherubino (final payment 27 July 1602: see Abromson, 'Art Bulletin', p. 532). Baglione credits C. with the greater part of the figures.
S. M. sopra Minerva, Aldobrandini Chapel: planned by Clement early in 1600 (avviso of 22 April 1600: Pastor, xxiv, p. 481, n. 6). A payment to C. dated 27 Jan. 1605 "per le pitture fatte nella Minerva" evidently refers to the vault, and an avviso of 25 Nov. 1609 reports C.'s return to Rome in order to complete the chapel (Abromson, op. cit., p. 543): this second phase must have consisted mainly, if not wholly, of the three lunettes, one of which is dated 1610. 20 July 1605, C. went bail for Caravaggio (Bertolotti, 'Lombardi', ii, p. 71). S. M. in Via, 4th chapel on r., fresco, 'Ark of the Covenant in a Landscape', dated 1614 (Titi).

Bibliography

Bartsch XVII pp.45-122 (172 nos)
See C.L.Witcombe, 'CA and the ownership of engraved plates', in 'Print Quarterly' VI 1989, pp.160ff.
Gere & Pouncey 1983 with following bibliography:
Bartsch, xvii, pp. 45ff. ; M. Gualandi, Memorie originali italiane risguardanti le belle arti, series 6, Bologna, 1845, pp. 64ff.; Thieme-Becker (1907) with previous bibliography; L. Servolini, 'Un incisore del cinquecento: Cherubino Alberti', Dedalo, xii (1932), pp. 753ff.; F. Würtenberger, 'Die manieristische Deckenmalerei in Mittelitalien', Römisches Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte, iv (1940), pp. 59ff.; M.V. Brugnoli, 'Un palazzo romano del tardo '500 e l'opera di Giovanni e Cherubino Alberti a Roma', Bollettino, xiii (1960), pp. 223ff.; W. Vitzthum, 'A Drawing for the Walls of the Farnese Gallery ...', Burlington, cv (1963), pp. 445ff.; P.D. Massar, 'A set of Prints and a Drawing for the 1589 Medici Marriage Festival', MD, 13 (1975), pp. 12ff; M.C. Abromson, 'Clement VII's Patronage of the Brothers Alberti', Art Bulletin, lx (1978), pp. 531ff.; K.H. Fiore, 'Studi sui disegni di figure di Giovanni e Cherubino Alberti', Bollettino, lxv (1980), pp. 39 ff.