Much of what is known about the invention of Mannerist decorative programmes is owed to the writings of humanist advisors like Annibale Caro, Vincenzo Borghini and Pietro Vettori. Jacopo Zucchi’s Discorso on the Rucellai Gallery is a unique insight into the iconographic process for an artist who composed his own programme. This paper examines some of the textual and visual sources used by Zucchi and attempts to discern his criteria for selecting them. The decoration of the gallery, in the Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome, is far and away his largest secular programme and is like a painted resumé, reusing a repertoire of motifs which Zucchi accumulated under Vasari in Florence, and during his work as an independent artist for Ferdinando de’ Medici in Rome.
Tim Ould is a doctoral candidate in Art History at the University of Melbourne, Australia.