The House of Pontormo


Jacopo Carucci, known as Pontormo (Pontorme, Empoli 1494 – Florence 1556), is one of the greatest of all Italian artists. Indeed, he is the symbol of that extraordinary season that was called the “modern manner” by Giorgio Vasari.

The sequence of misfortunes that troubled Pontormo’s early years of life had an unsettling influence throughout his life. Still perhaps too much has been said about his mental condition. Surely his work reflects (but in the most elevated poetic terms) his private meditations. His daring, anti-conformist works are among the 16th century’s absolute masterpieces.

Jacopo Carucci was born in a small house located at the present-day Via Pontorme 97. Thanks to documentary evidence, the building was accurately identified by Ugo Procacci in 1956. On the facade is a commemorative plaque composed by Emilio Cecchi for the fourth centenary of the painter’s death. It is a three-story, medieval building that spreads over an area of more than one hundred square meters.

Pontormo’s birthplace was acquired by the Municipality of Empoli at the end of 1995, for the celebration of the fifth centenary of the artist’s birth, commemorated by several institutions in Tuscany.

The purchase was undertaken in the belief that any initiative paying tribute to the artist would be diminished if his memory were not also enhanced in the Empoli area. Pontormo’s home has been open to the public since May 2006, following the excellent restoration undertaken by the city.

Objects and works are displayed that recall the master’s work, including, for example, facsimiles of the preparatory drawings Jacopo did for the saints he painted on the altarpiece in the nearby Church of Saint Michele.

There is also a beautiful facsimile version, commissioned by the Municipality of Empoli, of the artist’s famous diary. The links between the house and the painter are ideally illustrated by a wooden panel painting, a beautiful old copy of the Madonna of the Book, a work by Pontormo whose autograph painting still remains unknown. Regarding the latter, it has been written that “it is undoubtedly [Pontormo’s] most copied work … and, in all probability, the most copied Madonna of the entire Florentine Cinquecento”. The archaeological remains found during the excavation work carried out during the building’s restoration are also visible.

To revitalize what was Jacopo’s first home, an international study center on the art of the Cinquecento in the province of Tuscany and the Municipality of Empoli’s Cultural Heritage Educational Section have been set up there. In fact, there are research activities in addition to educational ones, with workshops, lectures, theater performances, and seminars.

The house in which Jacopo was born and his altarpiece depicting Saints John the Evangelist and Michael the Archangel, kept just a few steps away in the Church of Saint Michele, thus represent an important documentation center on this great Mannerist painter and his time.

Short Bibliography

La Casa del Pontormo. Primo viatico, Antonio Natali, Polistampa editore, 2006.


Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Michael the Archangel (Detail)

Date: ca. 1519
Technique and Materials:
Oil on a wooden panel
Jacopo Pontormo

Completed around 1519, this altarpiece with Saints John the Evangelist and Michael the Archangel was intended for the church of Saint Michele. The two saints are placed in counterpoint, differing only in the mirror image of their red cloaks: one softly, sinuously enveloping the Evangelist, while the other wrapping roughly and forcefully around the Archangel. Crouching down, almost wedged between the Archangel‘s feet is a devil, portrayed as a child with demonic ears and a sharp-pointed wing. Although wounded and bleeding, his face marked by a grimace of pain, he does not hesitate to overturn one of the scale pans with which Michael weighs souls, almost as if reversing the judgment, perhaps as a warning against the snares of evil to souls, even in the moment of death, and a reflection on death prompted by Jacopo’s profound and tormented religious feeling. In this altarpiece, Jacopo experimented with new chromatic ranges, using them to create a constant dialectical and seemingly harmonious relationship between the two figures, united only by the same shades of gray and red. Falling from above, the light instead creates unrestrained contrasts and juxtapositions altering all the proportions.


Copy of Pontormo’s “Madonna of the Book’

Date: third quarter of the 16th century
Florentine painter from the second half of the 16th century

The connections between the House of Pontormo and the artist born there are ideally illustrated by this panel painting from the Uffizi’s storerooms and now exhibited in the dwelling’s most distinguished room. It is a beautiful old copy of the Madonna of the Book, a work by Pontormo whose autograph painting still remains unknown. Regarding the latter, it has been written that “it is undoubtedly [Pontormo’s] most copied work … and, in all probability, the most copied Madonna of the entire Florentine Cinquecento”. Critics are unanimous in recognizing the extremely high stylistic quality of this copy in the House of Pontormo that, in all probability, is unquestionably faithful to the original.


The House of Pontormo
Via Pontorme, 97
Phone: 0571 994346
Fax: 0571 757740
Website | E-mail

How to get there:
By car: coming from Florence, take the SGC FI-PI-LI (towards Pisa) and exit at Empoli Est.
By bus: from Florence (Piazza Adua), use the SITA-LAZZI bus service
By train: local trains departing from the S.M. Novella station in Florence for Pisa and/or Livorno stop at Empoli station.

Opening hours

Thursdays and Fridays: 10 a.m.-1 p.m.;
Saturdays and holidays: 4-7 p.m.

Booking is required for tours and workshops.


Admission is free.