Giovanni Battista Franco
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(Frequently known as IL SEMOLIE)
Italian historical painter and etcher, b. at Udine in 1510; d. at Venice in 1580. He studied in Rome, giving special attention to the works of Michelangelo, and taking great interest in designing allegorical decorations on a large scale. He worked with Vasari in carrying out some decorative work in a palace for Ottaviano de' Medici, but is better known for his portraits of the Medici family, which were, however, to a great extent copies from the works of other men. His designs for majolica were of importance and were executed for the Duke of Urbino ; but perhaps he is better remembered for his etchings, of which there are over a hundred, than for any other works. He is said to have been instructed in the art of etching by Marc' Antonio, and his plates are marked B.F.V.F. (Battista Franco Venetus Fecit). They are not particularly attractive, as their execution is somewhat mechanical, but there is a certain light and easy spirit about them by which they can be recognized. About half the number are original works, the others being derived from paintings by Raphael, Titian, and others.
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