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Giovanni Battista Franco (before 1510-1561) was an Italian mannerist painter, draughtsman and engraver. Native of Venice, he spent the first part of his career in Rome, but by 1536 had settled in Florence. Back in Rome by 1542, he painted a fresco of the Capture of Saint John the Baptist for the Oratorio di San Giovanni Decollato. In 1545, he was summoned by Duke Guidobaldo II to Urbino, where he painted frescoes in the Duomo (destroyed). The last ten years of his career were spent in Venice, where among his significant works are a "Baptism of Christ" for San Francesco della Vigna and the ceiling decoration of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi and the Biblioteca Marciana. Franco is better known as a draughtsman and recent scholars such as A. E. Popham found much to praise in 'Franco's extraordinary skill, with his rather scratchy but effective line, and his combination of Michelangelesque and Raphaelesque forms.' Among his drawings there are numerous studies of antique subjects taken from Roman sarcophagi.
Dr. Anne Varick Lauder is Moore Curatorial Fellow, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York. She recently curated the exhibit and catalogue Celebrating Rembrandt: Etchings from the Morgan, 2006. On Battista Franco she has written a number of scholarly articles and her unpublished Ph.D. thesis (4 volumes), Battista Franco (c. 1510-1561). His Life and Work with Catalogue Raisonne, University of Cambridge, 2004.