The 'Half Insane Eccentric'
Born in Bologna, Amico (or Amerigo) Aspertini (1475-1552) was the precociously talented son of a painter; he studied under Il Francia and Lorenzo Costa. Aspertini loved antiquity and spent three years studying the ruins of Rome, leaving behind detailed sketchbooks that are one of the best sources for understanding the appearance of the city's antiquities in the Renaissance. While in Rome he closely studied the frescoes of Pinturicchio, whose rich colours would influence his own art.
In 1504, Aspertini was back in Bologna, joining his teachers in painting the lovely frescoes in the Oratorio di Santa Cecilia. He left major fresco cycles in Lucca, and back in Bologna was given the honour of decorating the triumphal arch erected for the entry of Pope Clement VII and Emperor Charles V in 1529.
Aspertini earned a memorable description in Giorgio Vasari's Lives of artists as a 'half-insane eccentric' who painted his chiarascuro so quickly that he held the chiara in one hand and the scuro in the other and was always complaining that artists in Bologna were trying to imitate Raphael. In his later years he turned to sculpture, sculpting the central tympanum arch and the figures of Joseph of Armithea and Christ in the lunette above the right door of the San Petronio.