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(known as IL CRESTI, or IL PASSIGNANO, Cresti being his family name)
A Venetian painter, born at Passignano, near Florence, in 1558; died at Florence, 1638. Although a Florentine by birth, he belongs to the Venetian school. He appears to have lived for a while at Florence, and afterwards at Pisa, but going to Venice, he accepted the Venetian traditions which he followed through the rest of his career. Personally, he was a man of charming manners, delightful in conversation. Pope Clement VIII knighted him and gave him many commissions, and Urban VIII added to his honours and emoluments. He returned to Florence, where he was greatly beloved and regarded as the chief member of its Academy, although recognized by all his companions as Venetian in style and out of sympathy with the Florentine methods. He painted with extraordinary facility, and so rapidly as to be nicknamed Passa Ognuno. This name has been regarded as a sort of play upon the name of his birthplace, and one author asserts that the name Passignano was derived from it; but there appears to be no authority for this. According to the custom of the time, the artist would derive his familiar cognomen from his birthplace.
Passignano's drawing was not particularly correct, but his ideas of composition were ingenious and clever. He regarded Tintoretto's work with very high favour, and many of his own paintings closely resemble those of the great master. But his desire to paint rapidly caused him to use his colours so thinly that many of his important works have for this very reason perished. He was responsible for the street decorations in Florence on the occasion of the marriage of the Grand Duke Ferdinand I with Christina of Lorraine, and the frescoes of the church of San Andrea at Rome were very largely his work. His own portrait is in the Uffizi Gallery at Florence, and the same city contains several of his best works. He is also to be studied in Paris, London, and Vienna.
VASARI (various editions); LANZI, Storie Pittorica (Bassano, 1809).
GEORGE CHARLES WILLIAMSON.
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