For buffs of Old Master shows, the first startling thing about the Rosso show at the National Gallery in Washington is that it was possible to have it.[1] Rosso was a brilliant and unusual painter of the era of Michelangelo, working at first in Florence and Rome, later in France, in the early sixteenth century. For artists of that era, full-scale one-man shows, with loans from museums of many different countries, seem virtually to have ceased. It has been thirty years since we saw the last one devoted to either of the artists commonly linked with Rosso as the creators of Mannerism: Pontormo and Parmigianino. No barrier of this kind seems to apply against the seventeenth century, however, as the Caravaggio and Zurbarán exhibitions have recently illustrated. There appears to be a line drawn somewhere around 1600; to reach earlier seems to breach a feeling...


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