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He was born at Oggiono near Milan. Of the details of his life, we know almost nothing — not even the date of his important series of frescoes painted for the church of Santa Maria della Pace in Milan. He probably died in Milan. Luigi Lanzi gave 1530 as the date of his death, but various writers in Milan say it took place in 1540, and now the best accepted date is 1549.
He was a hard-working artist, but his work has since been criticized by some for paintings are wanting in vivacity of feeling and purity of drawing, while, in his composition, it has been well said that "intensity of color does duty for intensity of sentiment." He copied Leonardo's Last Supper repeatedly, and one of his best copies is in the possession of the Royal Academy of Arts. The Hungarian art critic Paul George Konody, in examining the Isleworth Mona Lisa, wrote of that painting:
The hands, with their careful and somewhat hard drawing and terra cotta coloring, suggest at once the name of Leonardo's pupil, Marco d' Oggionno; whereas the inimitably soft and lovely painting of the head and bust, the exquisite subtlety of the expression, the golden glow of the general coloring, can be due only to Leonardo".
His two most notable pictures — one in the Pinacoteca di Brera (representing St. Michael), and the other in the private gallery of the Bonomi family (representing the Madonna) — are signed with his name in Latin, "Marcus".
His other works can be seen at Berlin, Paris, St. Petersburg and Turin, the one in Russia being a clever copy of the Last Supper by Leonardo. He cannot be regarded as an important artist, or even a very good copyist, but in his pictures the sky and mountains and the distant landscapes are always worthy of consideration, and in these we probably get the painter's best original work.