Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Andrea del Sarto – plague in Florence

“The siege being finished . . . . Florence became filled with soldiers and stores from the camp. Among those soldiers were some mercenaries sick of the plague, who brought no little terror into the city and shortly afterwards left it infected. Thereupon, either through this apprehension or through some imprudence in eating after having suffered much privation in the siege, one day Andrea fell grievously ill and took to his bed with death on his brow; and finding no remedy for his illness, and being without much attention for his wife, from fear of the plague, kept as far away from him as she could he died, so it is said, almost without a soul being aware of it; and he was buried . . . with scant ceremony in the Church of the Servi, near his own house . . .” — Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists


Portrait of a man St. John the Baptist
Portrait of a man
Andrea del Sarto
National Gallery London
St. John the Baptist
Andrea del Sarto
Palazzo Pitti, Florence


Florentine painter Andrea del Sarto (1486–1530) ascended the ladder of fame by transforming High Renaissance style into his own elegantly mannered and classical compositions populated by graceful saints and refined portraits. He became ill during the siege that brought the plague to Florence and lasted nearly ten months, during which a large Imperial and Spanish army surrounded the city and captured it, overthrowing the republic and restoring Medici rule.



Highlighted in Frontispiece Spring 2013 – Volume 5, Issue 2, Highlighted Vignette Volume 12, Issue 4 – Fall 2020

Sections  |  Infectious Diseases

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