By returning to original sources, Natali succeeds in introducing a new Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530), one whose brilliant and moving pictures leap off the pages with startling freshness. Since the 16th century, Andrea has been pictured as a "timid soul, " a view first proposed in Vasari's Lives and perpetuated without revision by later writers. According to this view, the artist was so shy and irresolute that he squandered his gift, living in near obscurity and refusing prosperity and worldly honors.Not so, says Natali, who argues instead that Andrea chose a simple but culturally vibrant life in a circle of like-minded friends -- intellectuals and common folk who practiced material austerity and humility. How can we label as timid an artist who painted a fresco cycle in Florence's most prestigious sacred institution when he was barely twenty years old? asks Natali. How irresolute was the man who accepted an open-ended invitation from French king Francis to join his court in an era when few artists left Florence; who -- amid rigid orthodoxy and accusations of heresy -- filled his sacred paintings with bold theological content; who headed teams of renowned artists in learned artistic debates and in the execution of major commissions? With such provocative insights, this volume is certain to stimulate and delight art historians and nonscholars alike.