One of the most famous Italian artists is certainly Lodovico Cardi, known as Cigoli. Painter, architect and sculptor owes his nickname to his birthplace, that is Cigoli, a small medieval village and fraction of the municipality of San Miniato and was an active artist during the Mannerist and Baroque period.
He was born on 21 September 1559 by Giovan Battista Cardi and Ginevra del Mazzi and at the age of 13, when the family moved to Florence, he began to work in the workshop of Alessandro Allori (a very famous painter pupil of Agnolo Bronzino) who, thanks to his passion for the works of Michelangelo Buonarroti, transmitted to the boy a great passion for painting.
Lodovico Cardi: artistic training in Florence
Lodovico applied for admission to the Academy of Arts and Design in Florence and his painting representing Cain and Abel (now lost) was judged the best of all those presented and in 1581 he took part in the decoration of the Galleria degli Uffizi together with his teacher.
Due to epilepsy problems he had to return again to Samminiatesi countryside and in this period the “Noli Me Tangere” of the Conservatory of Santa Chiara and the “Annunciation of Figline Valdarno” are attested. He was again recalled to Florence by the artist Bernardo Buontalenti (yes, the very one who invented the Buontalenti cream and who is still reported today as the inventor of ice cream) who worked at the Medici court and with him he began his studies of architecture and perspective managing to stand out for its great originality. In this period, thanks also to the precious help of his great friend Galileo Galilei, he wrote the Treatise on Perspective, which is now in the Cabinet of Drawings and Prints of the Uffizi gallery.
In this new Florentine period he also devoted himself to painting, inspired by artists such as Santi di Tito, Correggio and Tiziano, until he made his entrance to the Medici court coming into contact with the Grand Duke Francesco I de ‘Medici and creating for him seven portraits, a canvas of the “Resurrection” for Palazzo Pitti and a fresco in the Medici Villa of Petraia (Castello).
Lodovico Cardi: success in Italy and the “Ecce Homo”
Lodovico will begin to travel to different regions of Italy, drawing inspiration from the great artists of his time and will have the opportunity to work for important Italian clients and, once back in Tuscany, he managed to open an important workshop in which many students worked and around in 1600 he will work again for the Medici court as set designer for the wedding celebrations between the King of France Henry IV and Maria de ‘Medici: his work was so appreciated that the queen commissioned him a statue for the Pont Neuf in Paris in honor and memory of his consort. Unfortunately, the statue was destroyed during the French Revolution.
Returning to Rome in 1604 he will create his most beautiful pictorial work par excellence, the Ecce Homo, that is the moment in which Jesus, scourged and in handcuffs, is presented to the crowd by Pilate: the painting, commissioned by Monsignor Massimo, will win the competition of Passignano and Caravaggio.
During his last years he will move again between Florence, where he will still work for the Medici court, and Rome where he remained until his death which took place on June 15, 1613 due to a malignant fever. His remains are today in the church of Santa Felicita in Florence.