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Published in 2010 by Britannica Educational Publishing (a trademark of Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.) in association with Rosen Educational Services, LLC 29 East 21st Street, New York, NY 10010. Copyright © 2010 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, and the Thistle logo are registered trademarks of Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. All rights reserved. Rosen Educational Services materials copyright © 2010 Rosen Educational Services, LLC. All rights reserved. Distributed exclusively by Rosen Educational Services. For a listing of additional Britannica Educational Publishing titles, call toll free (800) 237-9932. First Edition Britannica Educational Publishing Michael I. Levy: Executive Editor Marilyn L. Barton: Senior Coordinator, Production Control Steven Bosco: Director, Editorial Technologies Lisa S. Braucher: Senior Producer and Data Editor Yvette Charboneau: Senior Copy Editor Kathy Nakamura: Manager, Media Acquisition Kathleen Kuiper: Manager, Arts and Culture Rosen Educational Services Jeanne Nagle: Senior Editor Nelson Sá: Art Director Matthew Cauli: Designer Introduction by Janey Levy Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The 100 most influential painters & sculptors of the Renaissance / edited by Kathleen Kuiper.—1st ed. p. cm.—(The Britannica guide to the world’s most influential people) “In association with Britannica Educational Publishing, Rosen Educational Services.” Includes index. ISBN 978-1-61530-043-3 (eBook) 1. Painting, Renaissance—Juvenile literature. 2. Sculpture, Renaissance—Juvenile literature. 3. Painters—Europe—Biography—Juvenile literature. 4. Sculptors Painters—Europe— Biography—Juvenile literature. I. Kuiper, Kathleen. II. Title: One hundred most influential painters & sculptors of the Renaissance. ND170.A14 2010 709.02'4—dc22 2009023697 On the cover: Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most influential artists of the Renaissance or any other period. Stuart Gregory/Photographer’s Choice RF/Getty Images Photo Credits: p; p. 8, 355, 357, 359 © www.istockphoto.com. CONTENTS Introduction Claus Sluter Jacopo della Quercia Robert Campin Lorenzo Ghiberti Donatello Jan van Eyck Il Pisanello Francesco Squarcione Paolo Uccello Rogier van der Weyden Luca della Robbia Fra Angelico Jacopo Bellini Masaccio Fra Filippo Lippi and Filippino Lippi Domenico Veneziano Dirck Bouts Antonio Vivarini Piero della Francesca Andrea del Castagno Jean Fouquet Alessio Baldovinetti Gentile Bellini Antonello da Messina Giovanni Bellini Carlo Crivelli Desiderio da Settignano Nuno Gonçalves Hans Memling Cosmè Tura Andrea Mantegna Pollaiuolo Brothers 8 17 20 22 23 31 36 40 43 45 48 52 53 62 63 69 75 77 78 80 85 87 88 90 92 93 98 100 101 102 106 107 118 73 115 119 Michael Pacher Andrea del Verrocchio Melozzo da Forlì Bartolomé Bermejo Hugo van der Goes Sandro Botticelli Martin Schongauer Luca Signorelli Domenico Ghirlandaio Hiëronymus Bosch Perugino Ercole de’ Roberti Leonardo da Vinci Vittore Carpaccio Gerard David Piero di Cosimo Quentin Massys Andrea Sansovino Albrecht Dürer Fra Bartolommeo Lucas Cranach the Elder Michelangelo Giorgione Il Sodoma Jan Gossart Albrecht Altdorfer Matthias Grünewald Lorenzo Lotto Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo Franciabigio Raphael Hans Baldung Jean Clouet Sebastiano del Piombo Andrea del Sarto Dosso Dossi 120 121 126 127 129 131 143 145 147 152 156 161 162 171 172 174 175 177 179 188 190 194 211 218 220 223 224 228 230 231 232 244 246 247 248 253 133 235 Alonso Berruguete Titian Lucas van Leyden Jean Cousin the Elder and Jean Cousin the Younger Giulio Romano Jacopo da Pontormo Correggio Rosso Fiorentino Jan van Scorel Hans Holbein the Younger Paris Bordone Benvenuto Cellini Parmigianino Il Bronzino Francesco Primaticcio Niccolò dell’Abate Daniele da Volterra Giorgio Vasari François Clouet Jacopo Bassano Tintoretto Pieter Bruegel the Elder Giuseppe Arcimboldo Pellegrino Tibaldi Paolo Veronese Giambologna Sofonisba Anguissola Germain Pilon Federico Zuccaro El Greco Nicholas Hilliard Lavinia Fontana Glossary For Further Reading Index 254 255 271 273 276 278 279 282 284 285 291 292 296 299 301 302 304 306 308 310 312 321 328 329 330 335 337 339 340 342 351 353 355 357 359 267 289 326 INTRODUCTION 7 Introduction O 7 ne of the best known and most celebrated of all periods in history, the Renaissance was a time of momentous change in European art and civilization, representing a transition from the medieval world to the modern one. In fact, when historians speak of early modern Europe, they are referring to the period encompassed by the Renaissance. For most people, the idea of the Renaissance is tightly bound with Italy, and fully two-thirds of the painters and sculptors surveyed in this book are Italian. Yet the Renaissance was hardly confined to Italy. One has only to think of some of the most famous and familiar names of the period: Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein the Younger (Germany), or Hiëronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder (the Netherlands). These and other great artists from France, Spain, and England are among those treated here. Still, the Renaissance remains closely identified with Italy, and part of the reason for this rests on the term’s inception and original meaning. As is often the case with periods of art history, the Renaissance received its name from scholars of a later time. The term “Renaissance,” which literally means “rebirth,” was first employed in the late 18th century, when it was used to describe the reappearance of Classical (ancient Greek and Roman) architectural forms in 16th-century Italian buildings. (Interestingly, it was French, not Italian, art historians who coined the term.) Over time, the term came to be applied not only to architecture but also to painting, sculpture, metalwork, ivory carving, and other art forms. Generally speaking, scholars consider the Renaissance to cover the period in Europe from about 1400 to around 1600, although those dates are not hard and fast. Precise dates vary among regions and among art forms. Within the period of the Renaissance, art historians recognize 9 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance three primary divisions. The early Renaissance extends from about 1420 to 1495. The High Renaissance covers a much shorter span of time—from 1495 to 1520. Late Renaissance painting and the style known as Mannerism comprise the remainder of the period. Of course, it would be a mistake to believe the early Renaissance represented a sudden and complete break with previous art styles, mysteriously springing into being fully formed, like Athena from the brow of Zeus. Although the Renaissance was an era of far-reaching transformations, it nonetheless rests firmly on foundations that date back to earlier centuries. Perhaps the element that stands out most widely and clearly in Renaissance art, and sets it apart from medieval art, is its emphasis on humanity and the human realm. This is not to say that the religious subjects that dominated earlier art disappeared from Renaissance art; that was hardly the case. However, the figures in Renaissance religious art—no matter how idealized they might be— were not the two-dimensional, sometimes ethereal and abstract figures of medieval art, but solid human figures who occupied three-dimensional space and were placed firmly on Earth. Godly themes and earthly representation meld in the art of Fra Angelico, a 15th-century Dominican friar and painter who incorporated both religious attitude and Classical influences into his work. Sharply drawn and delineated human figures adorn his many altarpieces and frescoes. Angelico’s influence reportedly extended throughout his native Florence, to amateurs and respected masters alike. The accomplished painter Fra Filippo Lippi, who was in great demand in the mid-1400s, is said to have borrowed heavily from Fra Angelico, mimicking the latter’s style but infusing it with his own techniques and narrative spirit. 10 7 Introduction 7 In addition, the creators of religious Renaissance art expressed drama and emotion in human terms. Beyond this development of more human qualities in religious art, the Renaissance also saw the growth of art categories that had little place in the medieval world—including portraits that were independent artworks and not secondary elements in religious images, subjects from Classical mythology, landscapes, and genre painting (scenes of daily life). One of the Renaissance’s most important and beloved painters, Sandro Botticelli, was adept at both the period’s firmly entrenched religious and the emerging secular aspects. In fact, many art scholars believe Botticelli’s historical canvases are equal or superior to the devotional pieces he was commissioned to create for a number of Florentine churches. He also was frequently called upon to paint portraits of his patrons, who were members of the infamous Medici family. Botticelli was even know to serve both masters at once; three patriarchs of the Medici clan are depicted as the Magi (the kings who paid homage to Jesus at his birth) in one of the master’s most famous works, Adoration of the Magi, which adorned the chapel at Santa Maria Novella. Confidence in human intellectual and creative ability and in the human capacity to understand and control the natural world, along with an increasing sense of individualism, marked the Renaissance throughout Europe. These developments were manifestations of the Renaissance intellectual movement known as humanism. Nineteenthcentury German scholars coined the term to describe the Renaissance emphasis on Classical studies. However, although “humanism” may be a 19th-century invention, it’s based on the word used in 15th-century Italy to describe a teacher of the humanities—umanista (plural: umanisti). That word in turn derives from studia humanitatis, the term 11 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance applied to the course of Classical studies that included Classical Latin, Greek, grammar, poetry, rhetoric, history, and moral philosophy. Humanism emphasized the fullest possible development of human virtue, including qualities such as understanding, compassion, mercy, fortitude, judgment, eloquence, and love of honour. It stressed a life of involvement in the world as well as one of contemplation. In humanist thought, people were the centre of the universe, possessed of personal freedom and an intelligence capable of understanding the world and accomplishing whatever they set their minds to. At the heart of humanism was belief in human dignity and individualism. Humanism’s beliefs gave rise to the notion of the uomo universale (universal man), known today as the Renaissance man. This was someone who was a master in all areas of knowledge, in physical skills, in social accomplishments, and in the arts. The idea originated in the writings of Leon Battista Alberti (1404–72), whose books on art theory did much to shape Renaissance art and elevate the artist’s status from craftsman to intellectual. Alberti was, in fact, a prime example of the uomo universale—he was not only a scholar but also an architect, painter, classicist, poet, scientist, and mathematician. Alberti’s 1435 book On Painting laid out the rules for depicting a three-dimensional scene on a two-dimensional surface. This is known as perspective, a technique that makes paintings more vibrantly alive and that had been a particular forte of Paolo Uccello. His experiments with various forms of perspective—showing an almost analytical, mathematic obsession with the style—are credited with ushering in the common use of this most crucial Renaissance artistic component. It is believed that Uccello’s perspective studies made an impression 12 7 Introduction 7 on the likes of fellow artists such as Piero della Francesca and, perhaps the best-known Italian uomo universale, Leonardo da Vinci. As an inventor, musician, writer, scientist, and engineer as well as a painter, Leonardo was indeed a Renaissance man. Labeled by author Giorgio Vasari as the “founder of the High Renaissance,” Leonardo was a master of perspective and composition. Masquerading as a simple portrait, his Mona Lisa is actually a complex study of favourite Renaissance themes—the human figure (the smiling, enigmatic woman in the foreground) and nature (the rolling hills and wandering river of the landscaped background). Another multifaceted artist, Michelangelo worked as a sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and fortification designer. First and foremost a sculptor, as well as a disavowed acolyte of Leonardo, Michelangelo transformed static marble into detailed human bodies in motion. The technique and mastery of anatomy he used in sculpting translated beautifully onto the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel—where he visually retold the biblical story of Genesis instead of simply portraying the twelve apostles, as he’d been contracted to do. Meanwhile, in Northern Europe, early Renaissance artists were less preoccupied with Classical antiquity than their Italian contemporaries. Their works do reveal, however, the humanist’s profound and abiding interest in humanity and the human realm. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, innovative sculptor Claus Sluter fashioned figures of unprecedented monumentality whose faces and gestures expressed deeply felt human emotions. One of Sluter’s patrons was Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy and ruler of the Low Countries. In Northern Europe, Philip and his successors played the same important role as art patrons that the Medici did in Italy. 13 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance Around the same time Sluter was working, painter Robert Campin created works whose subject matter was traditionally religious but whose style was decidedly not. He placed his heavy, solid figures in three-dimensional space and set the scenes in ordinary settings familiar to the emerging middle class, filled with carefully observed details of daily life. Jan van Eyck, often hailed as the founder of Flemish painting, perfected the newly developed technique of oil painting at a time when Italian painters were still using medieval tempera (ground pigments mixed with egg yolk). Using this technique, he depicted a world of extraordinary detail, rich colour, and brilliant luminosity. He was also the first Flemish painter to sign his works—an expression of the artist’s new status in the Renaissance, which he carried even further by adding an aristocratic motto to some paintings. A contemporary of van Eyck’s, Rogier van der Weyden produced paintings that explored with great subtlety not so much the physical as the emotional world. At the end of the 15th century, Hans Memling, a German painter working in the Low Countries, produced portraits of extraordinary sensitivity and observation. His religious paintings, though popular at the time and widely imitated, are usually viewed today as unexceptional. Working in Germany in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Albrecht Dürer was one of the giants of the Renaissance, perhaps closer to the ideal of the uomo universale than any other Northern artist. Exceptionally talented, he produced paintings, prints, and drawings of a wide range of subjects, including carefully observed and detailed studies of the natural world. After his death in the second half of the 16th century, the painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder was mourned by one 14 7 Introduction 7 of his friends as “the most perfect painter of his age.” His works covered a wide range of subject matter, but he is perhaps best known today for his paintings that exemplify the humanist’s interest in humans and their world. He painted numerous scenes of daily life—but not the life of the nobles or even that of the merchant middle class. Rather, he portrayed the daily life of peasants and villagers; the effect was almost like an anthropologist studying a culture. Bruegel also created paintings that gave visual form to popular sayings found in The Netherlands Proverbs. What follows will provide more detailed narratives of the artists mentioned here, as well as dozens more. The accounts of their lives and works will offer greater insight into the complex and fascinating period known as the Renaissance. 15 7 Claus Sluter 7 Claus Sluter (b. c. 1340/50, Haarlem?, Holland [now in the Netherlands]—d. between Sept. 24, 1405, and Jan. 30, 1406, Dijon, Burgundy [now in France]) A n influential master of early Netherlandish sculpture, Claus Sluter moved beyond the dominant French taste of the time and into highly individual monumental, naturalistic forms. His works infuse realism with spirituality and monumental grandeur. His influence was extensive among both painters and sculptors of 15th-century northern Europe. Sluter, whose first name appears variously as Claus, Claes, or Klaas, is known through his works rather than accounts of his person. He is thought to be the Claes de Slutere van Herlam (Haarlem) who was listed in the records of the stonemasons’ guild in Brussels about 1379. From ducal archives he is known to have entered in 1385 the service of Philip II the Bold, duke of Burgundy, who was ruler of the Netherlands and regent of France in the last decades of the century. Philip founded the Carthusian monastery of Champmol at Dijon in 1383 and made its chapel a dynastic mausoleum adorned with sculpture by Sluter. All of the surviving sculpture known to be by Sluter was made for Philip. Two compositions are still to be found at the site of Champmol. The figures on the central pillar that divided the portal of the chapel show the duke and duchess presented by their patron saints John the Baptist and Catherine to the Virgin and Child. The Well of Moses in the cloister consists of the remains of a wellhead that had been surmounted by a group showing the Calvary of Christ. The other extant work is the duke’s own tomb, which once stood in the chapel at Champmol but which has been reassembled in the Museum of Fine Arts in Dijon. 17 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance The archives in Dijon provide some information on Sluter’s sculptural commissions. In 1389 he succeeded Jean de Marville as chief sculptor to the duke, and in that year he began carving the portal sculptures, which had been planned as early as 1386. He replaced the portal’s damaged central canopy, and by 1391 had completed the statues of the Virgin and Child and the two saints. By 1393 the statue of the duchess was completed, and it is presumed that the duke’s statue also was finished by then. In 1395 he began the Calvary group for the cloister. In 1396 Sluter brought to Dijon his nephew Claus de Werve and sculptors from Brussels to assist in his numerous ducal commissions. The architectural portion of the duke’s tomb had been completed by 1389, but only two mourning figures of the sculptural composition were ready when the duke died in 1404. Philip’s son, Duke John the Fearless, contracted in 1404 for the completion of his father’s tomb within four years, but Sluter’s nephew did not finish it until 1410, and he used it as the model for Duke John’s own tomb. Many of the mourning figures around the base are copies of what must be Sluter’s work, though the problem of establishing his exact contribution is difficult because the two tombs were disassembled in the French Revolution and extensively restored from 1818 to 1823. Sluter, an innovator in art, moved beyond the prevailing French taste for graceful figures, delicate and elegant movement, and fluid falls of drapery. In his handling of mass, he also moved beyond the concern with expressive volumes visible in the sculptures of André Beauneveu, an eminent contemporary who worked for Philip’s brother Jean, Duke de Berry. The grandeur of Sluter’s forms can only be paralleled in Flemish painting (by the van Eycks and Robert Campin) or in Italian sculpture (by Jacopo della Quercia and Donatello) several decades later. 18 7 Claus Sluter 7 The portal of the Champmol chapel is now somewhat damaged. The Virgin’s sceptre is missing, as are the angels, once the object of the child’s gaze, holding symbols of the Passion. This work, though begun by Marville, must have been redesigned by Sluter, who set the figures strongly before an architecture with which they seem intentionally not closely aligned, the doorway becoming a background for the adoring couple of Duke Philip and his wife. This transforms traditional portal design into a pictorial form in which architecture has become a foil, the framework for a figured triptych. Projecting canopies and jutting corbels carved with figures, deep undercuttings, and swirling draperies aid Sluter’s dynamic naturalism. This is a weighty, massive art of dominantly large, balanced forms. The six-sided Well of Moses, now lacking its crowning Calvary group, which made the whole a symbol of the “fountain of life,” presents six life-sized prophets holding books, scrolls, or both. The figures, beginning with Moses, proceed counterclockwise to David, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Daniel, and Isaiah. Moses was placed directly below the face of Christ, and the location of Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, was at Jesus’ back, as befits a precursor. Zechariah looks down sadly as Daniel vigorously points to his prophecy. On the other side of Daniel, and serving to balance Daniel’s passionate temperament, is the calm reflective Isaiah. This juxtaposition reveals Sluter’s use of alternating naturalistic balances. The head and torso fragment of Christ from the Calvary reveal a power and intensity of restrained expression that conveys overwhelming grandeur. Suffering and resignation are mingled, a result of the way the brow is knitted, though the lower part of the face, narrow and emaciated, is calm and without muscular stress. The Well of Moses was originally 19 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance painted in several colours by Jean Malouel, painter to the duke, and gilded by Hermann of Cologne. The figures of the composition dominate the architectural framework but also reinforce the feeling of support that the structure provides through their largeness of movement. Sluter’s latest preserved work, the tomb of Philip the Bold, was first commissioned from Jean de Marville, who is responsible only for the arcaded gallery below the sepulchral slab of black marble from Dinant. Forty figures, each about 16 inches (41 cm) high and either designed or executed by Sluter, made up the mourning procession. Not all the figures are still in position at the tomb; three are lost, three are in the Cleveland Museum of Art, and one is in a French private collection. They served as models for Sluter’s nephew Claus de Werve, Juan de la Huerta, and other artists for sculptured tombs in France and beyond its borders. Sluter did not invent the mourning procession nor did he design the setting. But he conceived of the figures as mourners, of whom no two are alike; some are openly expressing their sorrow, others are containing their grief, but all are robed in heavy wool, draping garments that occasionally veil a bowed head and face to convey a hidden mourning. Spiritualist and naturalist in one, Sluter epitomized in sculpture the growing awareness of an individualized nature with discoverable laws and an enduring grandeur. Jacopo della Quercia (b. c. 1374, Siena [Italy]—d. Oct. 20, 1438, Bologna, Papal States) della Quercia was one of the most original Italian J acopo sculptors of the early 15th century. His innovative work influenced a number of Italian artists, including Francesco di Giorgio, Niccolò dell’Arca, and Michelangelo. 20 7 Jacopo della Quercia 7 Jacopo came from a family of craftsmen; his father, Piero d’Angelo, was also a sculptor, and his brother Priamo was a painter. In 1401 Jacopo participated in the competition for the bronze doors of the baptistery in Florence, which was won by Lorenzo Ghiberti. About 1406 Jacopo carved the tomb of Ilaria del Carretto in the Cathedral of Lucca. The effigy and sarcophagus alone survive. In 1408, at Ferrara, he made the statue of the Virgin and Child, which still exists in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. A year later he received the commission for the Fonte Gaia in the Piazza del Campo at Siena, now replaced by a copy; the original is in the loggia of the town hall. The scheme of this celebrated and highly original fountain seems to have been repeatedly modified, the most effective work being done between 1414 and 1419. At the same time, Jacopo was working on the statue of an apostle for the exterior of the cathedral at Lucca, the Trenta altar for the Church of San Frediano in Lucca, and tomb slabs for Lorenzo Trenta and his wife. In 1417 he undertook the creation of two gilt bronze reliefs for the baptismal font in San Giovanni in Siena. Being a dilatory artist, he completed only the Zacharias in the Temple, the second being assigned to Donatello. Jacopo’s main work is the sculpture around the portal of San Petronio at Bologna. The 10 scenes from Genesis, including The Creation of Eve, five scenes from the early life of Christ, the reliefs of prophets, and the statues of the Virgin and Child with Saints Petronius and Ambrose give a sense of depth often seen in the paintings of Masaccio. In 1435 Jacopo was appointed superintending architect of Siena Cathedral, for which he was employed on the decoration (unfinished) of the Cappella Casini. His innovative sculptural style found no immediate followers in Siena, Bologna, or Lucca, but it later became a profound influence on Michelangelo. 21 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance Robert Campin (b. c. 1378, Tournai, France—d. April 26, 1444, Tournai) O ne of the earliest and greatest masters of Flemish painting was Robert Campin. He has been identified with the Master of Flémalle on stylistic and other grounds. Characterized by a naturalistic conception of form and a poetic representation of the objects of daily life, Campin’s work marks the break with the prevailing International Gothic style and prefigures the achievements of Jan van Eyck and the painters of the Northern Renaissance. Documents show that Campin was established as a master painter in Tournai in 1406. Two pupils are mentioned as entering his studio in 1427—Rogelet de la Pasture (generally identified with the great Rogier van der Weyden) and Jacques Daret. The only documented work by Jacques Daret, an altarpiece executed for the Abbey of St. Vaast near Arras, shows close stylistic analogies with works by van der Weyden on one hand and works earlier in style by the Master of Flémalle on the other. Both seem to proceed from common models, for they obviously are not copies of one another. As the Tournai records give the name of Campin as master of both Daret and van der Weyden, it has been generally assumed that the Master of Flémalle may be reasonably identified with Campin. Some scholars, however, have stylistically considered the works ascribed to the Master of Flémalle as early works by van der Weyden himself. Campin’s art is indebted to that of manuscript illumination, but his work displays greater powers of observation and ability to render plastic forms than is found in contemporary manuscript illumination. One of his masterpieces is the Mérode Altarpiece (c. 1428), a triptych of the Annunciation with the donors and St. Joseph on the wings. The Virgin is portrayed in a setting of bourgeois 22 7 Robert Campin 7 realism in which interior furnishings are rendered with the frank and loving attention to detail that was to become a characteristic tradition of Flemish art. Another important work, at the Städelsches Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt am Main, consists of two wings of an altarpiece dating c. 1440 that are said to have come from the Abbey of Flémalle. They depict the Virgin and Child and St. Veronica (with Trinity on the reverse). Among other works generally ascribed to Campin are the Virgin and Child Before a Firescreen and a double portrait at the National Gallery, London, a Nativity at Dijon (dated c. 1430), and the Werl Altarpiece (1438) in the Prado, Madrid. Lorenzo Ghiberti (b. c. 1378, Pelago [Italy]—d. Dec. 1, 1455, Florence) T he early Italian Renaissance sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti is best known for his doors for the baptistery of Florence Cathedral (Gates of Paradise; 1425–52), which are considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Italian art in the Quattrocento. His other works include three bronze statues for Or San Michele (1416–25) and the reliefs for Siena Cathedral (1417–27). Ghiberti also wrote I Commentarii, three treatises on art history and theory from antiquity to his time. Ghiberti’s mother had married Cione Ghiberti in 1370, and they lived in Pelago, near Florence. At some point she went to Florence and lived there as the common-law wife of a goldsmith named Bartolo di Michele. They were married in 1406 after Cione died, and it was in their home that Lorenzo Ghiberti spent his youth. It is not certain which man was Ghiberti’s father, for he claimed each as his father at separate times. But throughout his early years, Lorenzo considered himself Bartolo’s son, and it was Bartolo who trained the boy as a goldsmith. Ghiberti also received 23 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance training as a painter; as he reported in the autobiographical part of his writings, he left Florence in 1400 with a painter to work in the town of Pesaro for its ruler, Sigismondo Malatesta. Ghiberti returned quickly to his home city when he heard, in 1401, that a competition was being held for the commission to make a pair of bronze doors for the baptistery of the cathedral of Florence. He and six other artists were given the task of representing the biblical scene of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac in a bronze relief of quatrefoil shape, following the tradition of the first set of doors Isaac, Jacob, and Esau, gilded bronze relief panel from the east doors (Gates of Paradise) of the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, 1425–52. SCALA/Art Resource, New York 24 7 Lorenzo Ghiberti 7 produced by Andrea Pisano (1330–36). The entry panels of Ghiberti and of Filippo Brunelleschi are the sole survivors of the contest. Ghiberti’s panels displayed a graceful and lively composition executed with a mastery of the goldsmith’s art. In 1402 Ghiberti was chosen to make the doors by a large panel of judges; their decision brought immediate and lasting recognition and prominence to the young artist. The contract was signed in 1403 with Bartolo di Michele’s workshop—overnight the most prestigious in Florence—and in 1407 Ghiberti legally took over the commission. The work on the doors lasted until 1424, but Ghiberti did not devote himself to this alone. He created designs for the stained-glass windows in the cathedral; he regularly served as architectural consultant to the cathedral building supervisors, although it is unlikely that he actually collaborated with Brunelleschi on the construction of the dome as he later claimed. The Arte dei Mercanti di Calimala, the guild of the merchant bankers, gave him another commission, about 1412, to make a larger than life-size bronze statue of their patron saint, John the Baptist, for a niche on the outside of the guilds’ communal building, Or San Michele. The job was a bold undertaking. As well as Ghiberti’s first departure from goldsmith-scale work it was, in fact, the first large bronze in Florence. Ghiberti successfully finished the St. John in 1416, adding gilding in the following year. The technical achievement and the modernity of its style brought Ghiberti commissions for two similarly large bronze figures for guild niches at Or San Michele: the St. Matthew in 1419 for the bankers’ guild and the St. Stephen for the wool guild in 1425. These last two commissions brought Ghiberti into open competition with the newly prominent younger sculptors Donatello and Nanni di Banco, who had made 25 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance stone statues for Or San Michele after Ghiberti’s first figure there. Ghiberti’s St. John still followed many of the conventions of the Gothic tradition. It combined smallscale details with a larger-than-life scale that made the figure appear overwhelmed by the drapery. Donatello’s St. Mark and St. George and Nanni di Banco’s St. Philip and Four Crowned Saints were as large as Ghiberti’s figure but were designed with monumental proportions to match their scale. The boldness and strength of the weighty new Classical figures constituted a challenge for Ghiberti, but he met it with success in his next sculptures, and maintained his preeminent position as a leading artist in Florence. The teens and ’20s were years of flourishing expansion for Ghiberti and his firm. He had completed a great deal of the modelling and casting of the panels for the baptistery doors by 1413, and he was in control of a smoothly functioning workshop with many assistants. In 1417 Ghiberti was asked to make two bronze reliefs for the baptismal font of the cathedral in Siena. He was so busy that he finished them, under pressure from the Sienese authorities, 10 years later. In 1419, when Pope Martin V was in Florence, Ghiberti was called on as a goldsmith to fashion a morse and mitre for the pontiff. Unfortunately, these pieces, like other examples of Ghiberti’s art in rare stones and precious metals, have disappeared. During these years, too, Lorenzo found a wife—Marsilia, the 16-year-old daughter of Bartolomeo di Luca, a wool carder. She soon bore him two sons: Tommaso was born in 1417 and Vittorio the next year. His sons later joined Ghiberti in his business, and Vittorio continued its operation after his father’s death. Ghiberti’s artistic success also had its financial rewards. A surviving tax return of 1427 lists property in Florence, land out of town, and a substantial amount of money invested in government bonds to his credit. Over the 26 7 Lorenzo Ghiberti 7 Bronze doors from the north side of the baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, c. 1403–24. Alinari/Art Resource, New York 27 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance years, his real estate and monetary holdings continued to grow. In addition to being well paid, Ghiberti was a businessman who managed his affairs shrewdly. He was a well-to-do member of Florentine society and a rich man among the artists of his time. Ghiberti was actively involved with and interested in other artists and their work. Some (Donatello, Paolo Uccello, Michelozzo, Benozzo Gozzoli) had worked for a time in his workshop as young assistants. Ghiberti’s association with the painter Fra Angelico is documented: Ghiberti designed the frame for his Linaiuoli Altarpiece. In his commentaries, Ghiberti exaggerates only a bit when he proudly claims that “few important things were done in our city which were not devised or designed by my hand.” Among his undocumented works may be noted some halfdozen floor tombs and sarcophagi, but the vast extent to which Ghiberti’s providing of designs and models influenced Florentine art is hard to measure. He appears to have shared his knowledge and talent generously and freely. Long before the completion of his second pair of doors (the Gates of Paradise) in 1452, the fund of figures and models assembled in connection with this work, which the public saw only later, was open to painters of frescoes in the Chiostro Verde (Green Cloister) of Santissima Annunziata and the sculptor Luca della Robbia, who was working on a marble singing gallery for the cathedral. Naturally, the impact of the Gates increased after they were installed. When he was 45 years old, Ghiberti finished the first doors. They are the effort of more than 20 years of work and the major sculptural complex of the International Gothic style in Italy. They show some changes in the latest parts, however, to a more Classical style that emphasizes the bodies of figures more than the elegant draperies that 28 7 Lorenzo Ghiberti 7 enfold them. Ghiberti created expressive, strong faces based on examples he knew of ancient Roman art—portrait busts and carved sarcophagi. Because of the success of the first doors, a contract was soon signed with the Calimala for a second pair, but the political and financial fortunes of the city and the guild did not permit work to get under way for about five years. Following the completion of the first doors, Ghiberti embarked on a decade of intense exploration of new ways of forming pictorial space and making gracefully active and lifelike figures. His works of the late 1420s show him able to make space increasingly intelligible in a series of clearly receding planes; using shallow relief, Ghiberti depicted volumes of bodies and deep architectural spaces. Examples of these are the reliefs in Siena; the Dati Tomb (the bronze plaque for the floor tomb of the Dominican general Leonardo Dati); and the two shrines in Florence, Cassa di S. Zenobius (a bronze casket with relief panels of stories from the saint’s life) and Shrine of Saints Protus, Hyacinth, and Nemesius (a bronze container for the relics of three martyrs). It is likely that at this time Ghiberti encountered Leon Battista Alberti, a young humanist scholar, who, inspired by the new art in Florence, was composing theoretical treatises on the visual arts. Their mutual belief that beauty was synonymous with the conception they shared of antique art makes it difficult to know whether or not Alberti’s ideas in De pictura (On Painting) precede the three panels of the second door (Isaac, Joseph, and Solomon), which are the visual equivalent of those ideas. The beauty of antique art meant for both Alberti and Ghiberti an idealization of nature; capturing its essence meant revealing life by depicting movement, life’s most salient visible characteristic. For the representation of a realistic spatial 29 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance setting for these naturalistic figures, Alberti’s treatise sets forth a perspective system for projecting such spaces onto the picture plane of a painting or bas-relief. Ghiberti’s three panels seem an embodiment of the humanist’s formulations for Renaissance pictorial art, and it is clear that any assessment of his art must account for the incorporation of the new theory as well as for the beauty and charm of these works. Ghiberti was himself so proud that he claimed to have made, in all, 10 panels, “. . . architectural settings in the relation with which the eye measures them, and real to such a degree that . . . one sees the figures which are near appear larger, and those that are far off smaller, as reality shows it.” Ghiberti’s writings, I Commentarii (probably completed around 1447), shed more light on his humanist interests.The commentaries are composed of three books. The first, a history of art in ancient times, is Ghiberti’s digest of writings of Latin authors on the subject. In it he reveals his belief that the inseparability of practice and theory is responsible for the excellence of ancient art. In the second book, which records the art of the immediate past, Ghiberti expresses his admiration for certain Sienese painters and for a late 14th-century northern goldsmith named Gusmin, who is known only through Ghiberti’s pages. This book includes an autobiography, in which Ghiberti establishes his place in the history of art. The last book was apparently more theoretical, but in the surviving manuscript it is fragmentary. The commentaries demonstrate Ghiberti’s confidence in his position as an important leader in the Florentine Renaissance—one interested in recapturing the art of the ancients and studying it as a humanist scholar would, and one who developed a new style, all’antica, in which he freely created art works with a grace and beauty that have been found winning since their invention. 30 7 Donatello 7 Donatello (b. c. 1386, Florence [Italy]—d. Dec. 13, 1466, Florence) D onatello was a master sculptor who worked in both marble and bronze. He is one of the greatest of all Italian Renaissance artists. A good deal is known about Donatello’s life and career, but little is known about his character and personality, and what is known is not wholly reliable. He never married, and he seems to have been a man of simple tastes. Patrons often found him hard to deal with in a day when artists’ working conditions were regulated by guild rules. Donatello seemingly demanded a measure of artistic freedom. Although he knew a number of humanists well, the artist was not a cultured intellectual. His humanist friends attest that he was a connoisseur of ancient art. The inscriptions and signatures on his works are among the earliest examples of the revival of Classical Roman lettering. He had a more detailed and wide-ranging knowledge of ancient sculpture than any other artist of his day. His work was inspired by ancient visual examples, which he often daringly transformed. Though he was traditionally viewed as essentially a realist, later research indicates he was much more. Early Career Donatello (diminutive of Donnato) was the son of Niccolò di Betto Bardi, a Florentine wool carder. It is not known how he began his career, but it seems likely that he learned stone carving from one of the sculptors working for the cathedral of Florence about 1400. Some time between 1404 and 1407, he became a member of the workshop of Lorenzo Ghiberti, a sculptor in bronze who in 1402 had won the competition for the doors of the Florentine baptistery. Donatello’s earliest work of which there is certain 31 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance knowledge, a marble statue of David, shows an artistic debt to Ghiberti, who was then the leading Florentine exponent of International Gothic, a style of graceful, softly curved lines strongly influenced by northern European art. The full power of Donatello first appeared in two marble statues, St. Mark and St. George (both completed c. 1415), for niches on the exterior of Or San Michele, the church of Florentine guilds. Here, for the first time since Classical antiquity and in striking contrast to medieval art, the human body is rendered as a self-activating, functional organism, and the human personality is shown with a confidence in its own worth. The same qualities came increasingly to the fore in a series of five prophet statues that Donatello did beginning in 1416 for the niches of the campanile, the bell tower of the cathedral. These works, with their highly individual features inspired by ancient Roman portrait busts, are so different from the traditional images of Old Testament prophets that by the end of the 15th century they could be mistaken for portrait statues. Donatello continued to explore the pictorial possibilities of sculpture begun by Ghiberti on the baptistery doors in his marble reliefs of the 1420s and early 1430s. The most highly developed of these are The Ascension, with Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter, which is so delicately carved that its full beauty can be seen only in a strongly raking light; and the Feast of Herod (1433–35), with its perspective background. Meanwhile, Donatello had also become a major sculptor in bronze. His earliest such work was the more than life-size statue of St. Louis of Toulouse (c. 1423) for a niche at Or San Michele. Donatello had been commissioned to do not only the statue but the niche and its framework. The niche may have been a collaboration with Michelozzo, a sculptor and architect with whom he entered into a limited partnership. Michelozzo was 32 7 Donatello 7 responsible for the architectural framework and the decorative sculpture. The architecture of these partnership projects resembles that of Brunelleschi and differs sharply from that of comparable works done by Donatello alone in the 1430s. All of his work done alone shows an unorthodox ornamental vocabulary drawn from both Classical and medieval sources and an un-Brunelleschian tendency to blur the distinction between the architectural and the sculptural elements. Both the Annunciation tabernacle in Santa Croce and the Cantoria (the singer’s pulpit) in the Duomo show a vastly increased repertory of forms derived from ancient art, the harvest of Donatello’s long stay in Rome (1430–33). His departure from the standards of Brunelleschi produced an estrangement between the two old friends that was never repaired. During his partnership with Michelozzo, Donatello carried out independent commissions of pure sculpture, including several works of bronze for the baptismal font of San Giovanni in Siena. The earliest and most important of these was the Feast of Herod (1423–27), an intensely dramatic relief with an architectural background that first displayed Donatello’s command of scientific linear perspective, which Brunelleschi had invented only a few years earlier. To the Siena font Donatello also contributed two statuettes of Virtues, austerely beautiful figures whose style points toward the Virgin and angel of the Santa Croce Annunciation, and three nude putti, or child angels. These putti, evidently influenced by Etruscan bronze figurines, prepared the way for the bronze David, the first large-scale, free-standing nude statue of the Renaissance. Well-proportioned and superbly poised, it was conceived independently of any architectural setting. Its harmonious calm makes it the most Classical of Donatello’s works. 33 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance Whether the David was commissioned by the Medici or not, Donatello worked for them (1433–43), producing sculptural decoration for the old sacristy in San Lorenzo, the Medici church. Works there included 10 large reliefs in coloured stucco and two sets of small bronze doors, which showed paired saints and apostles disputing with each other in vivid and even violent fashion. Paduan Period In 1443 Donatello was lured to Padua by a commission for a bronze equestrian statue of a famous Venetian condottiere, Erasmo da Narmi, popularly called Gattamelata (“The Honeyed Cat”), who had died shortly before. Such a project was unprecedented—indeed, scandalous—for since the days of the Roman Empire bronze equestrian monuments had been the sole prerogative of rulers. The execution of the monument was plagued by delays. Donatello did most of the work between 1447 and 1450, yet the statue was not placed on its pedestal until 1453. It portrays Gattamelata in pseudo-Classical armour calmly astride his mount, the baton of command in his raised right hand. The head is an idealized portrait with intellectual power and Roman nobility. This statue was the ancestor of all the equestrian monuments erected since. Its fame, enhanced by the controversy, spread far and wide. Even before it was on public view, the king of Naples wanted Donatello to do the same kind of equestrian statue for him. In the early 1450s, Donatello undertook some important works for the Paduan Church of San Antonio: a splendidly expressive bronze crucifix and a new high altar, the most ambitious of its kind, unequaled in 15th-century Europe. Its richly decorated architectural framework of marble and limestone contains seven life-size bronze statues, 21 bronze reliefs of various sizes, and a large limestone 34 7 Donatello 7 relief, Entombment of Christ. The housing was destroyed a century later, and the present arrangement, dating from 1895, is wrong both aesthetically and historically. Donatello’s mastery in handling large numbers of figures (one relief has more than 100) anticipates the compositional principles of the High Renaissance. Donatello was apparently inactive during the last three years at Padua, clearly passing through a crisis that prevented him from working. He was later quoted as saying that he almost died “among those frogs in Padua.” In 1456 the Florentine physician Giovanni Chellini noted in his account book that he had successfully treated the master for a protracted illness. Donatello completed only two works between 1450 and 1455: the wooden statue St. John the Baptist in Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice, shortly before his return to Florence; and an even more extraordinary figure of Mary Magdalen in the Florentine baptistery. Both works show new insight into psychological reality; Donatello’s formerly powerful bodies have become withered and spidery, overwhelmed, as it were, by emotional tensions within. Late Florentine Period During Donatello’s stay in Padua, a new generation of sculptors who excelled in the sensuous treatment of marble surfaces had arisen in Florence. Thus Donatello’s wooden figures must have been a shock. With the change in Florentine taste, all of Donatello’s important commissions came from outside Florence. They included the dramatic bronze group Judith and Holofernes and a bronze statue of St. John the Baptist for Siena Cathedral. The last years of Donatello’s life were spent designing twin bronze pulpits for San Lorenzo, and thus, again in the service of his old patrons the Medici, he died. Covered 35 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance with reliefs showing the passion of Christ, the pulpits are works of tremendous spiritual depth and complexity. Jan van Eyck (b. before 1395, Maaseik, Bishopric of Liège, Holy Roman Empire [now in Belgium]—d. before July 9, 1441, Bruges) F lemish painter Jan van Eyck is notable for having perfected the newly developed technique of oil painting. His naturalistic panel paintings, mostly portraits and religious subjects, made extensive use of disguised religious symbols. His masterpiece is the altarpiece in the cathedral at Ghent, the Adoration of the Lamb (1432; also called Ghent Altarpiece). Jan van Eyck must have been born before 1395, for in October 1422 he is recorded as the varlet de chambre et peintre (“honorary equerry and painter”) of John of Bavaria, count of Holland. He continued to work in the palace of The Hague until the count’s death in 1425 and then settled briefly in Bruges before he was summoned, that summer, to Lille to serve Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, the most powerful ruler and foremost patron of the arts in Flanders. Jan remained in the duke’s employ until his death. On behalf of his sponsor he undertook a number of secret missions during the next decade, of which the most notable were two journeys to the Iberian Peninsula, the first in 1427 to try to contract a marriage for Philip with Isabella of Spain, and a more successful trip in 1428–29 to seek the hand of Isabella of Portugal. As a confidant of Philip, Jan may have participated directly in these marriage negotiations, but he also was charged to present the duke with a portrait of the intended. In 1431 Jan purchased a house in Bruges and, about the same time, married a woman named Margaret, about whom little more is known than that she was born in 1406 36 7 Jan van Eyck 7 and was to bear him at least two children. Residing in Bruges, Jan continued to paint, and in 1436 he again made a secret voyage for Philip. After his death in 1441, he was buried in the Church of Saint-Donatian, in Bruges. Securely attributed paintings survive only from the last decade of Jan’s career; therefore, his artistic origins and early development must be deduced from his mature work. Traditionally, Jan has been acclaimed the founder of Flemish painting, and scholars have sought his artistic roots in the last great phase of medieval manuscript illumination. It is clear that the naturalism and elegant composition of Jan’s later painting owe much to such early 15th-century illuminators as the anonymous Boucicaut Master and Pol, Herman, and Jehanequin de Limburg (the “Limburg Brothers”), who worked for the Burgundian dukes. A document of 1439 reports that Jan van Eyck paid an illuminator for preparing a book for the duke; but central to the discussion of his ties to manuscript illustration has been the attribution to Jan of several miniatures, identified as Hand G, in a problematic prayer book known as the Turin-Milan Hours. So long as these “Eyckian” miniatures were dated in the 1420s or even earlier, Jan’s authorship seemed indubitable; but recent investigations strongly indicate that these miniatures were painted at least 20 years later and, hence, that they are by an imitator. With the elimination of the Turin-Milan Hours from Jan van Eyck’s early oeuvre, his connections with International Gothic style illumination appear to have been less direct than had been thought. Certainly as important for Jan’s artistic formation were the panel paintings of Robert Campin (c. 1378–1444), a Tournai painter whose important role in the history of Flemish art has only recently been reestablished. Jan must have met Campin at least once, when he was feted by the Tournai painter’s guild in 1427, and from Campin’s art he 37 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance seems to have learned the bold realism, the method of disguised symbolism, and perhaps the luminous oil technique that became so characteristic of his own style. In contrast to Campin, who was a Tournai burgher, Jan was a learned master at work in a busy court, and he signed his paintings, the first Flemish artist to do so. The majority of Jan’s panels present the proud inscription “IOHANNES DE EYCK,” and several bear his aristocratic motto, “Als ik kan” (“As best I can”). It is small wonder that Campin’s reputation faded and his influence on Jan was forgotten, and it is of little surprise that many of Campin’s achievements were credited to the younger master. Despite Jan van Eyck’s having signed 9 paintings and dated 10, the establishment of his oeuvre and the reconstruction of its chronology present problems. The major difficulty is that Jan’s masterpiece, the Adoration of the Lamb altarpiece, has a probably reliable inscription that introduces another painter, Hubert van Eyck, as its principal master. (Hubert van Eyck is believed to have been Jan’s brother.) This has caused art historians to turn to less ambitious but more secure works to plot Jan’s development, including, most notably: the Portrait of a Young Man (Leal Souvenir) of 1432, the wedding portrait Giovanni Arnolfini and Giovanna Cenami of 1434, the Madonna with Canon van der Paele of 1434–36, the triptych Madonna and Child with Saints of 1437, and the panels of St. Barbara and the Madonna at the Fountain, dated, respectively, 1437 and 1439. Although they fall within a brief span of seven years, these paintings present a consistent development in which Jan moved from the heavy, sculptural realism associated with Robert Campin to a more delicate, rather precious, pictorial style. On stylistic grounds there seems little difficulty in placing the Ghent Altarpiece at the head of this development as indicated by the date 1432 in the inscription, but 38 7 Jan van Eyck 7 the question of Hubert’s participation in this great work has yet to be completely resolved. The inscription itself is definite about this point: “The painter Hubert van Eyck, greater than whom no one was found, began [this work]; and Jan, his brother, second in art [carried] through the task . . .” On the basis of this claim, art historians have attempted to distinguish Hubert’s contribution to the Ghent Altarpiece and have even assigned to him certain of the more archaic “Eyckian” paintings, including The Annunciation and The Three Marys at the Tomb. The confusion concerning Jan’s relationship to Hubert, the doubt about his activities as an illuminator, and the reemergence of Robert Campin as a preeminent master do not diminish the achievement and significance of Jan van Eyck. He may not have invented oil painting as early writers asserted, but he perfected the technique to mirror the textures, light, and spatial effects of nature. The realism of his paintings—admired as early as 1449 by the Italian humanist Cyriacus D’Ancona, who observed that the works seemed to have been produced “not by the artifice of human hands but by all-bearing nature herself ”—has never been surpassed. For Jan, as for Campin, naturalism was not merely a technical tour de force, however. For him, nature embodied God, and so he filled his paintings with religious symbols disguised as everyday objects. Even the light that so naturally illuminates Jan van Eyck’s landscapes and interiors is a metaphor of the Divine. Because of the refinement of his technique and the abstruseness of his symbolic programs, the successors of Jan van Eyck borrowed only selectively from his art. Campin’s foremost student, Rogier van der Weyden, tempered his master’s homey realism with Eyckian grace and delicacy. In fact, at the end of his career, Campin himself succumbed somewhat to Jan’s courtly style. Even Petrus Christus, who may have been apprenticed in Jan’s atelier 39 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance and who finished the Virgin and Child, with Saints and Donor after Jan’s death, quickly abandoned the intricacies of Jan’s style under the influence of van der Weyden. During the last third of the century, the Netherlandish painters Hugo van der Goes and Justus van Gent revived the Eyckian heritage, but, when such early 16th-century Flemish masters as Quentin Massys and Jan Gossart turned to Jan’s work, they produced pious copies that had little impact on their original creations. In Germany and France the influence of Jan van Eyck was overshadowed by the more accessible styles of Campin and van der Weyden, and only in the Iberian Peninsula—which Jan had visited twice—did his art dominate. In Italy his greatness was recognized by Cyriacus and by the humanist Bartolomeo Facio, who lists Jan, together with van der Weyden and the Italian artists Il Pisanello and Gentile da Fabriano, as one of the leading painters of the period. But Renaissance artists, as painters elsewhere, found him easier to admire than to imitate. Interest in his painting and acknowledgment of his prodigious technical accomplishment have remained high. Jan’s works have been copied frequently and have been avidly collected. He is referred to in the Treaty of Versailles, which specifies the return of the Ghent Altarpiece to Belgium before peace with Germany could be concluded after the end of World War I. Il Pisanello (b. c. 1395, Pisa [Italy]—d. 1455) A ntonio Pisano, known as Il Pisanello, was an Italian medalist and painter and a major exponent of a style known as International Gothic because it was unusually common to several countries. It was characterized by a delicate naturalism. Pisanello’s early work suggests that he 40 7 Il Pisanello 7 Madonna with SS. Anthony and George, painting by Pisanello, after 1422; in the National Gallery, London. Courtesy of the trustees of the National Gallery, London; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd Photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd. 41 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance was the pupil of Stefano da Zevio, a Veronese artist. (He was wrongly identified as “Vittore Pisano” by Giorgio Vasari, and only in 1907 was his personal name verified as Antonio.) Pisanello collaborated with Gentile da Fabriano on frescoes in the Doges’ Palace in Venice (c. 1415–22) and in St. John Lateran in Rome (after 1427). After Gentile’s death, Pisanello probably completed the Roman frescoes, known only through drawings, which show Gentile’s great influence over the young Pisanello. Until 1969, when layers of plaster were removed from the walls of the Sala del Pisanello in Mantua’s Palazzo Ducale to reveal a series of Pisanello’s frescoes depicting scenes of war and chivalry, his only surviving frescoes were thought to have been an Annunciation at the tomb of Niccolò di Brenzoni in San Fermo (c. 1423–24) and the legend of St. George in the Pellegrini Chapel in San Anastasia (c. 1433–38), both in Verona. These works are characterized by the curvilinear design, calligraphic draperies, and decorative detail typical of the International Gothic style that Pisanello used throughout his career. Even a mature work such as his St. Eustace is encrusted with rich detail that tends to work against spatial clarity. The Madonna with SS. Anthony and George displays a simpler conception. It is dominated by the monumental figures of the two saints and the bust of the Virgin in a mandorla, or almond-shaped aureole. Pisanello’s fame and his importance in court circles rested more upon his medals than upon his painting. They are thought to have resulted from his study of ancient Greek and Roman numismatic portraits. He had virtually no recent predecessors, and, with him, the art reached its highest point. His work includes the medal of the Greek emperor John VIII Palaeologus (1438), the wedding medal of Lionello d’Este (1444), Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta 42 7 Il Pisanello 7 (1445), and the medal of Alfonso of Aragon (1448), generally cited as his most successful work in the genre. Most of Pisanello’s painted portraits, such as the Margherita Gonzaga (c. 1438), and Lionello d’Este (c. 1440), show the sitter in profile—a convention of Pisanello’s portrait medals—against a background of delicate, colourful flowers and butterflies. Pisanello’s drawings have been preserved in the Codex Vallardi. This is the only instance in which the drawings of a 15th-century workshop have been preserved virtually intact. They are of unique value, therefore, for the study of the style and techniques of draftsmanship of the period. Pisanello uses a large variety of techniques and materials to produce masterful drawings (some coloured) of animals, plants, costume design, and perspective studies. His drawings of various views of horses are particularly well known. He was one of the first 15th-century artists to draw from life instead of adhering to the medieval tradition of copying the drawings of others. These drawings reveal Pisanello’s breadth of interest and his sensitive eye. They combine delicately rendered early Renaissance naturalism with the beauty of late Gothic line and are one of his most important contributions to the history of art. Francesco Squarcione (b. c. 1395, Padua [Italy]—d. after 1468, Padua) E arly Renaissance painter Francesco Squarcione founded the Paduan school of art. He is known for being the teacher of Andrea Mantegna and other noteworthy painters. Squarcione was the son of a notary of Padua. From an early age he began to collect and draw copies of ancient sculptures. According to the 16th-century historian 43 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance Bernardino Scardeone, who is the main source of information on Squarcione, he traveled widely in search of these objects and may have even visited Greece. After returning to Padua, he began teaching, taking his first student in 1431. He was associated in 1434 with the influential Tuscan painter Fra Filippo Lippi during the latter’s stay in Padua. In 1440 Squarcione purchased a house in which he displayed his collection of antique sculptures and architectural fragments. Squarcione’s two extant panel paintings, a Madonna and Child in Berlin and the polyptych St. Jerome and Saints (1449–52) in the Civic Museum of Padua, show the influence of the Florentine early Renaissance style, especially that of the sculptor Donatello, who worked in Padua from 1443 to 1453. The only record of Squarcione’s mature style is contained in a cycle of frescoes of scenes from the life of St. Francis on the exterior of San Francesco at Padua (c. 1452–66). Such compositions as can be reconstructed confirm the traditional view of Squarcione as one of the channels through which the early Renaissance style of Florence diffused in Padua. More significant than his painting, however, was his establishment of a private school, a place for learning that differed from the traditional workshop and apprenticeship. According to Scardeone, Squarcione had 137 pupils. One of the noteworthy features of his school was his inclination to adopt the more skilled students and enlist them in painting for him. Among the artists he taught or influenced were Mantegna and Marco Zoppo (both of whom he adopted and both of whom rejected his authority), Giorgio Schiavone, and Cosmè Tura. Squarcione’s school was renowned as one of the most advanced in the area, although later scholars credit his students rather than Squarcione with innovation. The claim that he was one of the first to understand linear perspective has also been challenged and seems unlikely. 44 7 Paolo Uccello 7 Paolo Uccello (b. 1397, Pratovecchio, near Florence [Italy]—d. Dec. 10, 1475, Florence) T he work of Florentine painter Paolo Uccello represents a unique attempt to reconcile two distinct artistic styles—the essentially decorative late Gothic and the new heroic style of the early Renaissance. Probably his most famous paintings are three panels representing The Battle of San Romano (c. 1456). His careful and sophisticated perspective studies are clearly evident in The Flood (1447–48). Apprenticeship and Early Work By the time Paolo Uccello, born Paolo di Dono, was 10 years old he was already an apprentice in the workshop of the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti, who was then at work on what became one of the masterpieces of Renaissance art— the bronze doors for the baptistery of the Florence Cathedral. In 1414 Uccello joined the confraternity of painters (Compagnia di San Luca), and in the following year he became a member of the Arte dei Medici e degli Speziali, the official guild in Florence to which painters belonged. Though Uccello must by then have been established as an independent painter, nothing of his work from this time remains, and there is no definite indication of his early training as a painter, except that he was a member of the workshop of Ghiberti, where many of the outstanding artists of the time were trained. Uccello’s earliest, and now badly damaged, frescoes are in the Chiostro Verde (the Green Cloister, so called because of the green cast of the frescoes that covered its walls) of Santa Maria Novella. They represent episodes from the Creation. These frescoes, marked with a pervasive concern 45 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance for elegant linear forms and insistent, stylized patterning of landscape features, are consistent with the late Gothic tradition that was still predominant at the beginning of the 15th century in Florentine studios. From 1425 to 1431, Uccello worked in Venice as a master mosaicist. All his work in Venice has been lost, however. Uccello may have been induced to return to Florence by the commission for a series of frescoes in the cloister of San Miniato al Monte depicting scenes from monastic legends. While the figural formulations of these ruinous frescoes still closely approximate those of the Santa Maria Novella cycle, there is also a fascination with the novel perspective schemes that had appeared in Florence during Uccello’s Venetian sojourn and with a simplified and more monumental treatment of forms deriving from the recent sculpture of Donatello and Nanni di Banco. Later Years In 1436 in the Florence Cathedral, Uccello completed a monochrome fresco of an equestrian monument to Sir John Hawkwood, an English mercenary who had commanded Florentine troops at the end of the 14th century. In the Hawkwood fresco, a single-point perspective scheme, a fully sculptural treatment of the horse and rider, and a sense of controlled potential energy within the figure all indicate Uccello’s desire to assimilate the new style of the Renaissance that had blossomed in Florence since his birth. Following the Hawkwood monument, in 1443 Uccello completed four heads of prophets around a colossal clock on the interior of the west facade of the cathedral; between 1443 and 1445 he contributed the designs for two stained-glass windows in the cupola. After a brief trip to Padua in 1447, Uccello returned to the Chiostro Verde of Santa Maria Novella. In a fresco 46 7 Paolo Uccello 7 illustrating the Flood and the recession of the water, Uccello presented two separate scenes united by a rapidly receding perspective scheme that reflected the influence of Donatello’s contemporary reliefs in Padua. Human forms in The Flood, especially the nudes, were reminiscent of figures in Masaccio’s frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel (c. 1427), perhaps the most influential of all paintings of the early Renaissance. More than any other painting by Uccello, The Flood illustrates the artist’s love for perspective. Perhaps Uccello’s most famous paintings are three panels representing the Battle of San Romano, now in the Louvre, Paris; the National Gallery, London; and the Uffizi, Florence. These panels represent the victory in 1432 of Florentine forces under Niccolò da Tolentino over the troops of their archrival, Siena. There are Renaissance elements, such as a sculptural treatment of forms and fragments of a broken perspective scheme in this work, but the bright handling of colour and the elaborate decorative patterns of the figures and landscape are indebted to the Gothic style. The older style continued to be used through the 15th century in Florence to enrich the environments of the new princes of the day, such as the Medici, who acquired all three of the panels representing the Battle of San Romano. Uccello is justly famous for his careful and sophisticated perspective studies in the underdrawing (sinopia) for his last fresco, The Nativity, formerly in San Martino della Scala in Florence, and in three drawings universally attributed to him that are now in the Uffizi. These drawings indicate a meticulous, analytic mind, keenly interested in the application of scientific laws to the reconstruction of objects in a three-dimensional space. In these studies he was probably assisted by a noted mathematician, Paolo Toscanelli. Uccello’s perspective studies were to influence 47 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance the Renaissance art treatises of artists such as Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci, and Albrecht Dürer. Uccello apparently led an increasingly reclusive existence during his last years. Assessment Uccello was long thought to be significant primarily for his role in establishing new means of rendering perspective that became a major component of the Renaissance style. The 16th-century biographer Giorgio Vasari said that Uccello was “intoxicated” by perspective. Later historians found the unique charm and decorative genius evinced by his compositions to be an even more important contribution. Rogier van der Weyden (b. 1399/1400, Tournai, France—d. June 18, 1464, Brussels) R ogier van der Weyden (French: Rogier de la Pasture) was a Flemish painter who, with the possible exception of Jan van Eyck, was the most influential northern European artist of his time. Though most of his work was religious, he produced secular paintings (now lost) and some sensitive portraits. Rogier van der Weyden was the son of a master cutler, and his childhood must have been spent in the comfortable surroundings of the rising class of merchants and craftsmen. He may even have acquired a university education, for in 1426 he was honoured by the city as “Maistre (Master) Rogier de la Pasture” and began his painting career only the next year at the rather advanced age of 27. It was then, on March 5, 1427, that van der Weyden enrolled as an apprentice in the workshop of Robert Campin, the foremost painter in Tournai and dean of the painters’ guild. 48 7 Rogier van der Weyden 7 Van der Weyden remained in Campin’s atelier for five years, becoming an independent master of the guild on Aug. 1, 1432. From Campin, he learned the ponderous, detailed realism that characterizes his earliest paintings, and so alike, in fact, are the styles of these two masters that connoisseurs still do not agree on the attribution of certain works. But the theory that the entire sequence of paintings credited to Campin (who, like van der Weyden, did not sign his panels) are actually from the brush of the young van der Weyden cannot be maintained. Careful study of secure works by van der Weyden and by his colleague in Campin’s workshop, Jacques Daret, permit scholars to reestablish a basic series of works by the older master and to distinguish the style of these from that of van der Weyden. Campin was not the only source of inspiration in van der Weyden’s art. Jan van Eyck, the great painter from Bruges, also profoundly affected the developing artist, introducing elegance and subtle visual refinements into the bolder, Campinesque components of such early paintings by van der Weyden as St. Luke Painting the Virgin. Although as an apprentice van der Weyden must certainly have met Jan van Eyck when the latter visited Tournai in 1427, it was more likely in Bruges, where van der Weyden may have resided between 1432 and 1435, that he became thoroughly acquainted with van Eyck’s style. By 1435, van der Weyden, now a mature master, settled in Brussels, the native city of his wife, Elizabeth Goffaert, whom he had married in 1426. The next year he was appointed city painter; and it was from this time that he began to use the Flemish translation of his name (van der Weyden). He remained in Brussels the rest of his life, although he never completely severed his ties with Tournai. He was commissioned to paint a mural (now destroyed) for the town hall of Brussels showing famous historical 49 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance examples of the administration of justice. During this same period, around 1435–40, he completed the celebrated panel of the Descent from the Cross for the chapel of the Archers’ Guild of Louvain. In this deposition there is evident a tendency to reduce the setting of a scene to a shallow, shrinelike enclosure and to orchestrate a rich diversity of emotions. These devotional qualities are even more striking in van der Weyden’s works of the 1440s such as the twin Granada-Miraflores altarpieces and the Last Judgment Polyptych in Beaune, France (Hôtel-Dieu). In these the settings are stark, the figures are delicate Gothic types, and the action, though stilled, is exquisitely expressive. The removal of van der Weyden’s art from concern with outward appearances and his return to medieval conventions is surprising; for it was during this decade that his international reputation was secured and commissions increased from noblemen such as Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, and his powerful chancellor, Nicolas Rolin. Van der Weyden may well have also been influenced by the writings of Thomas à Kempis, the most popular theologian of the era, whose “practical mysticism,” like van der Weyden’s painting, stressed empathetic response to episodes from the lives of Mary, Christ, and the saints. Perhaps as an extension of a journey to install the Last Judgment Altarpiece in Rolin’s chapel at Beaune or possibly to obtain a plenary indulgence for his daughter Margaret, one of van der Weyden’s four children, who had died that year, the renowned painter visited Rome during the Jubilee of 1450. He was warmly received in Italy. Praise from the humanist Bartolomeo Fazio and the eminent theologian Nicholas of Cusa is recorded; van der Weyden also received commissions from the powerful Este family of Ferrara and the Medici of Florence. He painted a portrait of Francesco d’Este (originally thought to be Leonello 50 7 Rogier van der Weyden 7 d’Este), and his painting of the Madonna and Child that still remains in Florence (Uffizi) bears the arms and patron saints of the Medici. While on his pilgrimage, van der Weyden apparently tutored Italian masters in painting with oils, a technique in which Flemish painters of the time were particularly adept. He also seems to have learned a great deal from what he viewed. Although he was primarily attracted to the conservative painters Gentile da Fabriano and Fra Angelico, whose medievalizing styles paralleled his own, van der Weyden was also acquainted with more progressive trends. In the St. John Altarpiece and the Seven Sacraments triptych, executed between 1451 and 1455, shortly after van der Weyden’s return north, his characteristic austerity was tempered by his recollection of the more robust Italian styles. In both, the panels are unified from a single point of view. Despite this enrichment, however, van der Weyden’s conceptions remained essentially iconic. He pushed the figures into the foreground and isolated them from their surroundings as subjects for devotion. The last 15 years of his life brought van der Weyden the rewards due an internationally famous painter and exemplary citizen. He received numerous commissions, which he carried out with the assistance of a large workshop that included his own son Peter and his successor as city painter, Vranck van der Stockt, a mediocre imitator. Even before his death, however, van der Weyden’s impact extended far beyond his immediate associates. The influence of his expressive but technically less intricate style eclipsed that of both Campin and van Eyck. Every Flemish painter of the succeeding generation—Petrus Christus, Dirck Bouts, Hugo van der Goes, and Hans Memling (who may have studied in van der Weyden’s atelier)—depended on his formulations; during the 16th century, his ideas were 51 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance transformed and revitalized by Quentin Massys and Bernard van Orley. Van der Weyden’s art was also a vehicle for transporting the Flemish style throughout Europe, and during the second half of the 15th century his influence dominated painting in France, Germany, and Spain. Nevertheless, van der Weyden’s fame quickly waned, and no painting by him had been signed or dated. By the end of the 16th century the biographer Carel van Mander had referred mistakenly to two Rogiers in Het Schilderboek (1603; “Book of Painters”), and by the middle of the 19th century his fame and art had all but been forgotten. Only through a meticulous evaluation of the documents have scholars since then been able to reconstruct van der Weyden’s work and to restore the reputation of one of 15th-century Flanders’ leading masters. Luca della Robbia (b. 1399/1400, Florence [Italy]—d. Feb. 10, 1482) T he sculptor Luca della Robbia was a pioneer of Florentine Renaissance style and the founder of a family studio primarily associated with the production of works in enameled terra-cotta. Before developing the process with which his family name came to be associated, Luca apparently practiced his art solely in marble. In 1431 he began what is probably his most important work, the Cantoria, or “singing gallery,” that was originally over the door of the northern sacristy of the Cathedral of Florence. Taken down in 1688 and reassembled in the Opera del Duomo Museum, it consists of 10 figurated reliefs: two groups of singing boys; trumpeters; choral dancers; and children playing on various musical instruments. The panels owe their great popularity to the innocence and naturalism with which the children are portrayed. The most important of Luca’s other works in marble are a 52 7 Luca della Robbia 7 tabernacle carved for the Chapel of San Luca in the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence (1441), and the tomb of Benozzo Federighi, bishop of Fiesole (1454–57). The earliest documented work in polychrome enameled terra-cotta, executed wholly in that medium, is a lunette of the Resurrection over the door of the northern sacristy of the cathedral (1442–45). According to Luca’s contemporary, the writer Giorgio Vasari, the glaze with which Luca covered his terra-cotta sculptures consisted of a mixture of tin, litharge antimony, and other minerals. The Resurrection lunette in the cathedral was followed by a corresponding relief of the Ascension over the southern sacristy door, in which a wider range of colour is employed. Of the many decorative schemes for which enameled terra-cotta was employed by Luca della Robbia, some of the most important are the roundels of Apostles in Filippo Brunelleschi’s Pazzi Chapel in Florence (soon after 1443); the roof of Michelozzo’s Chapel of the Crucifix in San Miniato al Monte, Florence (c. 1448); and a lunette over the entrance of San Domenico at Urbino (c. 1449). Luca’s last major work in this medium is an altarpiece in the Palazzo Vescovile at Pescia (after 1472). There are also many notable works by Luca outside Italy. Fra Angelico (b. c. 1400, Vicchio, Republic of Florence [Italy]—d. Feb. 18, 1455, Rome) O ne of the greatest painters of the 15th century, Fra Angelico created works within the framework of the early Renaissance style that embody a serene religious attitude and reflect a strong Classical influence. A great number of works executed during his career are altarpieces and frescoes created for the church and the priory of San Marco in Florence while he was in residence there. 53 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance San Domenico Period Baptized Guido di Pietro, Angelico appeared in a document of 1417 as a lay painter. Later, between the years 1420 and 1422, he became a Dominican friar and resided in the priory of San Domenico at Fiesole, there taking the name of Fra Giovanni da Fiesole. At Fiesole he was probably influenced by the teachings of Giovanni Dominici, the militant leader of the reformed Dominicans; the writings of Dominici defended traditional spirituality against the onslaught of humanism. Angelico was also influenced by his fellow friar St. Antoninus Pierozzi, who became the archbishop of Florence when Fra Angelico refused the post and who may have consolidated Angelico’s faith. It is believed that Antoninus also may have inspired some of Angelico’s compositions. According to the painter and biographer Giorgio Vasari, Angelico was trained by the greatest painter and miniaturist of the Gothic tradition, Lorenzo Monaco, whose influence may be seen in the clear, painstaking delicacy of execution and the vibrant luminosity that seem to spiritualize the figures in Angelico’s paintings. These qualities are notably apparent in two small altarpieces, Madonna of the Star and The Annunciation. Angelico’s Deposition for Santa Trinità in Florence was once attributed to Monaco, who had begun it before he died in 1425. Monaco had divided it into a triptych and executed the pinnacles. Angelico, however, made it a unified altarpiece with a vast landscape dominated by a varicoloured hill town. It is perhaps an imaginative evocation of Cortona, where Fra Angelico spent some time and where some of his important works are to be found. Against that background are sharply outlined human figures in interconnected groups; their features are so delicately traced that attempts have been made to identify 54 7 Fra Angelico 7 them as portraits. These arrangements of figures attest to Angelico’s deep knowledge of the formalism that characterized the art of the early Renaissance. Two strands were interwoven in Angelico’s life at Fiesole: the pious life of a friar and continuous activity as a painter. Vasari described him as “saintly and excellent,” and, not long after his death, he was called angelico (“angelic”) because of his moral virtues. This subsequently became the name by which he is best known, often preceded by the word beato (“blessed”). Angelico knew and followed closely the new artistic trends of his time, above all the representation of space by means of perspective. In works such as the large Last Judgment and The Coronation of the Virgin, for example, the human figures receding toward the rear themselves create a feeling of space similar to that in the paintings of Angelico’s great Florentine contemporary Masaccio. The earliest work by Angelico that can be dated with certainty is a triptych of huge dimensions that he painted for the linen merchants’ guild (or Arte dei Linaiuoli; hence its name, the Linaiuoli Altarpiece); it is dated July 11, 1433. Enclosed in a marble shrine designed by the Florentine sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti, this altarpiece represents the Virgin and Son facing forward, monumentally, and, surrounding them in a minor key, charming angels, developing the motif of the Madonna of the Star. The group has affinities with the Florentine Maestà (i.e., Madonna and Child Enthroned in Majesty) of the 14th century, but the influence of Masaccio may be seen in the formalism of the construction and in the innovative use of light and colour. Angelico finished the work with a predella, or narrow strip of paintings along the bottom of the altarpiece; this group of paintings includes The Adoration of the Magi and The Martyrdom of St. Mark, which are lucid and compact in their narrative and have a strictly defined perspective, a 55 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance technique that is even more effective in the small painting depicting the naming of John the Baptist. In the early 1430s, Angelico was commissioned to paint the Deposition for the sacristy of the Church of Santa Trinità as a companion piece to Gentile da Fabriano’s Adoration of the Magi. As mentioned earlier, Angelico took over this painting after the death of Lorenzo Monaco in 1425. In Angelico’s painting, the dead Christ is gently lowered from the cross and is mourned in silent grief by the Virgin Mary and a group of women on the left of the composition. On the right, a group of men clothed in contemporary Florentine dress stand in mute contemplation. One of these figures might be the portrait of Palla Strozzi, the patron of the chapel and of the altarpiece. Strozzi, who was at the time one of the richest men in Europe and a rival to Cosimo de’ Medici, was exiled in 1434. The altarpiece might have been finished after his exile, possibly about 1440. The Deposition is one of the first paintings in the Italian Renaissance to depict figures in a receding landscape rather than in a space set as a foreground stage. In the background, Angelico depicted the city of Jerusalem. Also in the 1430s, Angelico painted one of the most inspired works of the Florentine Renaissance, The Annunciation, an altarpiece significantly superior to his two other paintings on the same subject. It shows the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve being driven out by the Angel yet also under the sway of the radiant messenger and pure maiden who are portrayed in the space of a Renaissance-style portico. The predella is skillfully divided into stories of the Virgin Mary, naturalistically portrayed—especially the Visitation, which has a realistic panorama. Angelico always followed reality closely, even when he used a miniaturist technique. Occasionally, he resorted to medieval techniques, such as a gold 56 7 Fra Angelico 7 background, in deference to the taste of those who commissioned the work, but his figures still emerge quite distinctly from the panels, in the Renaissance manner, revealing the painter’s increasingly sure and harmonious pictorial idiom. Angelico’s Annalena Altarpiece, also of the 1430s, is, so far as is known, the first sacra conversazione (i.e., “sacred conversation,” a representation of the Holy Family) of the Renaissance. Years at the Priory of San Marco Angelico remained in the Fiesole priory until 1439, when he entered the priory of San Marco in Florence. There he worked mostly on frescoes. San Marco had been transferred from the Sylvestrine monks to the Dominicans in 1436, and the rebuilding of the church and its spacious priory began about 1438, from designs by the Florentine architect and sculptor Michelozzo. The construction was generously subsidized by the Medici family. Angelico was commissioned about 1438 by Cosimo de’ Medici the Elder to execute the altarpiece, for which he again painted a sacra conversazione. When the church was consecrated at Epiphany in 1443, the altarpiece must have dominated the place of worship. Angelico portrayed the Virgin and Child raised high on a throne, with saints on either side receding into space; among them are the two patron saints of the Medici, Cosmas and Damian. This work, one of the most compelling Fra Angelico created, ends in a dense grove of cypresses, palms, and pines against a deep but toneless sky. His figures seem cleansed of any human passion and appear to have supreme serenity of spirit. A predella, showing eight little legends of the two Medicean saints separated by a Pietà (Virgin Mary holding the body of Christ), completed the work. These paintings are now scattered among various museums. 57 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance The Annunciation, fresco by Fra Angelico, 1438–45; in the Museum of San Marco, Florence. SCALA/Art Resource, New York On the walls of the priory of San Marco in Florence are the paintings that mark the high point of Angelico’s career. In the chapter hall, he executed a large Crucifixion that seems akin to the “Moralities” of the 14th century, which urged detachment from worldly vanities and salvation through Christ alone. In addition to the three crucified figures against the sky, Angelico painted groups of ritual figures, rhythmically arranged, with a chorus of martyrs, founders of religious orders, hermits, and defenders of the Dominican order (whose genealogical tree is depicted beneath this striking scene), as well as the two Medicean saints. Thus, in the comprehensiveness of this 58 7 Fra Angelico 7 work, Fra Angelico developed a concept that was barely suggested in his earlier altarpieces. He portrayed the exaltation of the Redeemer in many other paintings in the priory’s first cloister and in its cells. In one corridor he executed an Annunciation that broadened the pattern of his earlier one in Cortona. In the cells, he proclaimed devotion to Christ crucified in at least 20 examples, all related to monastic life. The pictorial work in these narrow spaces is intricate, probably the work of numerous hands directed by the master, including Benozzo Gozzoli, the greatest of Fra Angelico’s disciples, and Zanobi Strozzi, another pupil better known as a miniaturist, as well as his earliest collaborator, Battista Sanguigni. The hand of Fra Angelico himself is identifiable in the first 10 cells on the eastern side. Three subjects merit particular attention: a Resurrection, a coronation of the Virgin, and, especially, a gentle Annunciation, presented on a bare white gallery, with St. Peter Martyr in prayer, timidly facing the group, his coloured habit contrasting with the delicate two tones of pink in the garments of the Virgin and the Angel. The cells, originally hidden from public view because of monastic vows of reclusion, reveal the secret joy of the painter-friar in creating figures of purity to move his fellow friars to meditation and prayer. The images in these paintings are the lyrical expressions of a painter who was also their prior. Roman Period At the end of 1446, Fra Angelico was called to Rome by Pope Eugene IV, and he remained there until about 1450. In the summer of 1447, however, he had undertaken to decorate the chapel of San Brizio in the cathedral of Orvieto. Angelico’s assistants, above all Gozzoli, worked 59 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance closely with him on two canvases, crowded with figures, in this chapel. These canvases, of Christ the Judge amid the hierarchy of angels and the chorus of the prophets, respectively, were only partially executed by Angelico; they were continued more than 50 years later by Luca Signorelli. In Rome the frescoes that Angelico executed in a chapel of St. Peter’s (c. 1446–47), in the chapel of the Sacrament in the Vatican (not before 1447), and in the studio of Pope Nicholas V (1449) have all been destroyed. But the Vatican still possesses his decorative painting for the Chapel of Niccolò V. There he painted scenes from the lives of Saints Stephen and Lawrence, along with figures of the Evangelists and saints, repeating some of the patterns of the predella on his altarpiece of San Marco. The consecration scene of St. Stephen and that of St. Lawrence are both set in solemn cathedral interiors, and the almsgiving of St. Lawrence is set against the background of a temple. In this scene particularly, Angelico imbued the poor and afflicted who surround the deaconsaint with a serenity that purifies them and illuminates them with an inner light, rendering them equals of the blessed figures on the altarpieces. At the same time, the organization of these works and the rendering of architecture in them mark the culmination of his development as a Renaissance artist. About 1450 Fra Angelico returned to Florence, where, still a friar, he became prior of the priory of San Domenico in Fiesole (1450–c. June 1452). His most notable work of this time was the cycle of 35 paintings of scenes from the life of Christ and other subjects for the doors of a silver chest in the sanctuary of the Church of Santissima Annunziata in Florence. These works, which have been extensively repainted, are probably distant echoes of the destroyed paintings in the Chapel of Niccolò V. Although 60 7 Fra Angelico 7 the authenticity of these works is disputed, the Massacre of the Innocents, Flight into Egypt, and Presentation in the Temple seem to be Angelico’s because of the bright spontaneity of the slender figures, as well as the spatiality of the surroundings and the landscape. Such traits derived from the artist’s vast experience in mural painting. In most of these little pictures, however, there is a kind of disconnectedness and weariness, indicating the hand of pupils whose art was a far cry from Fra Angelico’s ineffable poetry. There is still a certain monumental tone in the late altarpiece he executed in the monastery of Bosco ai Frati in the Mugello. With the completion of this altarpiece and several other minor works, Fra Angelico’s fertile artistic labours drew to a close. In 1453 or 1454 Fra Angelico again went to Rome, where he died in the Dominican priory in which he had stayed during his first visit to that city. He was buried in the nearby church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, where his tomb remains an object of veneration. Assessment In addition to the influence he had on his followers, Fra Angelico exerted a significant influence in Florence, especially between 1440 and 1450, even on such an accomplished master as Fra Filippo Lippi. As a friar, Fra Angelico was lauded in writings of the 15th century and later, some of which bestowed a legendary halo on him. As a painter, he was acclaimed as early as 1438 by the contemporary painter Domenico Veneziano. Vasari, in his section on Angelico in Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, was largely inaccurate in his biographical data but correctly situated Fra Angelico in the framework of the Renaissance. 61 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance Jacopo Bellini (b. c. 1400, Venice [Italy]—d. c. 1470, Venice) T he painter responsible for introducing the principles of Florentine early Renaissance art into Venice was Jacopo Bellini. He was trained under the Umbrian artist Gentile da Fabriano, and in 1423 he had accompanied his master to Florence. There the progress made in fidelity to nature and in mastery of Classic grace by such masters as Donatello and Ghiberti, Masaccio and Paolo Uccello offered Jacopo further inspiration. By 1429 Jacopo was settled at Venice and had established himself as the city’s most important painter. The use of gold pigment in highlights of such works as his Madonna (c. 1438) shows that Jacopo long retained elements derived from Byzantine art, while the Child’s rich robes and the patterned background of angels reveal his continued interest in the higher decorative style in which he was trained, conventionally called International Gothic. The modeling of the figures, the confident rendering of folds of cloth, and the accurate perspective, however, indicate an excellent understanding of the progressive art of 15th-century Florence. In the life-sized Crucifixion the spare and sombre scene strictly conforms to the Florentine Renaissance style of Masaccio and repudiates the rich colouring and courtly grace of Bellini’s earlier known works. More important than his paintings are his two books of drawings (c. 1450). The Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London each own one of these sketchbooks. The drawings depict a great variety of scenes, and artists used them as models for compositions well into the 16th century. In such drawings as the Nativity, the Flagellation, and St. John the Baptist Preaching, Jacopo experimented 62 7 Jacopo Bellini 7 with linear perspective and was among the first to make figures diminish in space using rules of perspective formerly applied only to depictions of architecture. The Crucifixion is among Jacopo’s boldest compositional experiments. Possibly for the first time in art, the three crosses are viewed at an angle instead of frontally, and the soldiers’ backs are turned to the viewer, lending a spontaneity and immediacy rare in Italian art of the time. Jacopo’s great influence upon Venetian art was heightened through the work of his sons, Gentile and Giovanni, and his son-in-law, Andrea Mantegna, all of whom were prominent painters in the vicinity of Venice. Masaccio (b. Dec. 21, 1401, Castel San Giovanni [now San Giovanni Valdarno, near Florence, Italy]—d. autumn 1428, Rome) M asaccio was a Florentine painter of the early Renaissance noted particularly for his frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence (c. 1427), which remained influential throughout the Renaissance. Masaccio’s art eventually helped create many of the major conceptual and stylistic foundations of Western painting. His use of light and shadow, the solidity and realism of his figures, and the use of the perspective in his paintings were entirely different from the work of the medieval and late Gothic artists who preceded him. The feeling of space and depth found in his frescoes and the naturalness and humanity of the religious figures he painted greatly influenced the Renaissance painters who followed him. In the span of only six years, he radically transformed Florentine painting. Seldom has such a brief life been so important to the history of art. 63 7 The 100 Most Influential Painters 7 & Sculptors of the Renaissance Early Life and Works Masaccio, as Tommaso di Giovanni di Simone Guidi became known, did not become an artist by inheriting his father’s trade, as was typical in the Renaissance. His father was a notary, but Masaccio’s paternal grandfather was a maker of chests (cassoni), which were often painted. It was perhaps through his grandfather’s connection with artists that he became one. From his birthdate in 1401 until Jan. 7, 1422, absolutely nothing is known about Masaccio. On the latter date he entered the Florentine Arte dei Medici e Speziali, the guild to which painters belonged. It is safe to assume that by his matriculation, he was already a full-fledged painter ready to supervise his own workshop. Where he had been between his birth and his 21st year, the painter or painters with whom he apprenticed, all that and more, remains, like so much about him, a tantalizing mystery. Masaccio’s earliest extant work is a small triptych dated April 23, 1422, or about three months after he matriculated in the Florentine guild. This triptych, consisting of the Madonna enthroned, two adoring angels, and saints, was painted for the Church of San Giovenale in the town of Cascia, near San Giovanni Valdarno, and is now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It displays an acute knowledge of Florentine painting, but its eclectic style is strongly influenced by Giotto and Andrea Orcagna. The triptych, nonetheless, is a powerfully impressive demonstration of the skill of the young, but already highly accomplished, artist. Masaccio’s forms are startlingly direct and massive. The triptych’s tight, spare composition and the unidealized and vigorous portrayal of the plain Madonna and Child at its centre does not in the least resemble contemporary Florentine painting. The figures do, however, reveal a complete understanding of the revolutionary art of 64 7 Masaccio 7 Donatello, the founder of the Florentine Renaissance sculptural style, whose early works Masaccio studied with care. Donatello’s realistic sculptures taught Masaccio how to render and articulate the human body and provide it with gestural and emotional expression. Masaccio’s next important work was a sizable, multipaneled altarpiece for the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine at Pisa in 1426. Unfortunately, the Pisa Altarpiece was dismantled in the 18th century and many of its parts lost, but 13 sections of it have been rediscovered and identified in museums and private collections. The altarpiece’s images, which include the Madonna and Child originally at its centre, amplify the direct, realistic character of the 1422 triptych. Ensconced in a massive throne inspired by Classical architecture, the Madonna is viewed from below and seems to tower over the spectator. The contrast between the bright lighting on her right side and the deep shadow on her left impart an unprecedented sense of volume and depth to the figure. Originally placed beneath the Madonna, the rectangular panel depicting the Adoration of the Magi is notable for its realistic figures, which include portraits, most likely those of the donor and his family. Like the Madonna and Child, the Adoration is notable for its deep, vibrant hues so different from the pre