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Italian Renaissance Learning Resources

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art

The Making of an Artist

Alberti, Leon Battista

(b Genoa, 14 Feb 1404; d Rome, April 1472). Italian architect, sculptor, painter, theorist and writer. The arts of painting, sculpture and architecture were, for Alberti, only three of an exceptionally broad range of interests, for he made his mark in fields as diverse as family ethics, philology and cryptography. It is for his contribution to the visual arts, however, that he is chiefly remembered. Alberti single-handedly established a theoretical foundation for the whole of Renaissance art with three revolutionary treatises, on painting, sculpture and architecture, which were the first works of their kind since Classical antiquity. Moreover, as a practitioner of the arts, he was no less innovative. In sculpture he seems to have been instrumental in popularizing, if not inventing, the portrait medal, but it was in architecture that he found his métier. Building on the achievements of his immediate predecessors, Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, he reinterpreted anew the architecture of antiquity and introduced compositional formulae that have remained central to classical design ever since.

Paul Davies, David Hemsoll

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Ammanati, Bartolomeo

Ammanati [Ammannati], Bartolomeo [Bartolommeo]

(b Settignano, nr Florence, 18 June 1511; d Florence, 13 April 1592).

Italian sculptor and architect. He was a major figure in Italian art in the second and third quarters of the 16th century. His extensive travels in north and central Italy gave him an unequalled understanding of developments in architecture and sculpture in the era of Mannerism. His style was based inevitably on the example of Michelangelo but was modified by the suaver work of Jacopo Sansovino. In both sculpture and architecture Ammanati was a highly competent craftsman, and his masterpieces, the tombs of Marco Mantova Benavides and two members of the del Monte family, the Fountain of Juno and the Fountain of Neptune and the courtyard of the Palazzo Pitti, are among the finest works of the period.

Charles Avery

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Anguissola, Sofonisba

(b Cremona, c. 1532; d Palermo, Nov 1625).

The best known of the sisters, she was trained, with Elena, by Campi and Gatti. Most of Vasari’s account of his visit to the Anguissola family is devoted to Sofonisba, about whom he wrote: ‘Anguissola has shown greater application and better grace than any other woman of our age in her endeavours at drawing; she has thus succeeded not only in drawing, colouring and painting from nature, and copying excellently from others, but by herself has created rare and very beautiful paintings’. Sofonisba’s privileged background was unusual among woman artists of the 16th century, most of whom, like Lavinia Fontana, Fede Galizia and Barbara Longhi, were daughters of painters. Her social class did not, however, enable her to transcend the constraints of her sex. Without the possibility of studying anatomy, or drawing from life, she could not undertake the complex multi-figure compositions required for large-scale religious or history paintings. She turned instead to the models accessible to her, exploring a new type of portraiture with sitters in informal domestic settings.

Marco Tanzi

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(b Kolophon, Ionia; fl late 4th century BC–early 3rd century BC; d ?Kos).

Greek painter. . . . According to Pliny, Apelles flourished in the 112th Olympiad (332BC), and his association with Philip II of Macedon implies that his career began before 336 BC. His work for Ptolemy I of Egypt suggests that it lasted until after 304 BC, when Ptolemy declared himself king. No painting by Apelles survives, however, and his works are known only from literary sources.

Apelles studied painting first under Ephoros of Ephesos, then under Pamphilos of Sikyon (Suidas). According to Plutarch (Aratos xiii), however, he was already much admired before he went to Sikyon and enrolled at the school simply to share in its reputation. . . . Apelles’ fame was later based primarily on his portraits, especially of Philip II and Alexander the Great. Several sources, including Pliny (XXXV.xxxvi.85), state that Alexander allowed no artist but Apelles to paint him, and two anecdotes apparently confirm his privileged status.

Ancient critics regarded the most notable quality of Apelles’ work as its grace (Gr. charis, Lat.venustas), in the sense both of outward beauty and of an inner spiritual radiance.

Susan B. Matheson

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Value is often placed on an aesthetic object being ‘genuine’, ‘authentic’ and so on, but nothing is ‘authentic’ per se. If we are asked whether what is before us is authentic, our response could justifiably be: ‘Authentic what?’ It might be an authentic oil painting, an authentic Italian painting, an authentic Renaissance painting, yet not an authentic Leonardo da Vinci painting, not the authentic Mona Lisa. Authenticity is always authenticity under one or another description. The question ‘Is it authentic?’ must be replaced by, or understood as, a question of the form ‘Is it an (or the) authentic so-and-so?’. When the question at hand is thus clarified, the term ‘authentic’ tends to become superfluous. . . . Questions of authenticity—of when, where and by whom a picture was painted—are in some cases settled by a complete and dependable record of the work since it left the artist’s hands. When no such record is available, the primary means of seeking to determine whether a picture was painted during a given period or in a given region or by a given artist is expert visual comparison with works already accepted and works already rejected as of the same period or region or by the same artist. The expert eye is, however, fallible, subject to countless perturbations and constantly in a process of learning—of becoming more perceptive and acute through training and study. Furthermore, the corpus of works taken as standards for comparison may itself be revised over time.

Nelson Goodman

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Bandinelli, Baccio

[Brandini, Bartolomeo]

(b Gaiole in Chianti, 17 Oct 1493; d Florence, 7 Feb 1560).

Italian sculptor, painter and draughtsman. He was the son of Michelagnolo di Viviano (1459–1528), a prominent Florentine goldsmith who was in the good graces of the Medici and who taught Cellini and Raffaello da Montelupo. Baccio remained loyal to the Medici, despite their being in exile from 1494 to 1513, and this led to a flow of commissions after the elections to the papacy of Leo X (Giovanni de’ Medici) in 1513 and of Clement VII (Giulio de’ Medici) a decade later; after Cosimo de’ Medici became Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1537, these increased still further. This political stance made him unpopular with most Florentines, including Michelangelo, who were Republican at heart, and this lay at the root of much of the adverse criticism—not always justified—that greeted Bandinelli’s statues.

Charles Avery

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Beccafumi, Domenico

Beccafumi [Mecarino, Mecherino], Domenico (di Giacomo di Pace)

(b Cortine in Valdibiana Montaperti, 1484; d Siena, between Jan and May 1551).

Italian painter, sculptor, draughtsman, printmaker and illuminator. He was one of the protagonists, perhaps even the most precocious, of Tuscan Mannerism, which he practised with a strong sense of his Sienese artistic background but at the same time with an awareness of contemporary developments in Florence and Rome. He responded to the new demand for feeling and fantasy while retaining the formal language of the early 16th century. None of Beccafumi’s works is signed or dated, but his highly personal maniera has facilitated almost unanimous agreement regarding the definition of his corpus and the principal areas of influence on it. However, some questions concerning the circumstances of his early career and the choices available to him remain unanswered.

Fiorella Sricchia Santoro

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Italian family of artists. Primarily painters, the Bellini were arguably the most important of the many families that played so vital a role in shaping the character of Venetian art. They were largely responsible for introducing the Renaissance style into Venetian painting, and, more effectively than the rival Vivarini family, they continued to dominate painting in Venice throughout the second half of the 15th century.

Peter Humfrey

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Bellini, Gentile

(b Venice, ?1429; d Venice, 23 Feb 1507).

Painter and draughtsman, son of Jacopo Bellini. An official painter of the Venetian Republic, he was a dominant figure in Venetian art for several decades in the latter half of the 15th century, known particularly for portraits and large narrative paintings in which the city and its inhabitants are depicted in great detail.

Lucinda Hawkins

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Bellini, Giovanni


(b ?1431–6; d Venice, 29 Nov 1516). Painter and draughtsman, son of Jacopo Bellini. Although the professional needs of his family background may have encouraged him to specialize at an early date in devotional painting, by the 1480s he had become a leading master in all types of painting practised in 15th-century Venice. . . . His increasing dominance of Venetian art led to an enormous expansion of his workshop after c. 1490; and this provided the training-ground not only for his numerous shop-hands and imitators (generically known as Belliniani) but probably also for a number of major Venetian painters of the next generation. . . . It was thanks to Giovanni Bellini that the Venetian school of painting was transformed during the later 15th century from one mainly of local significance to one with an international reputation. He thus set the stage for the triumphs of Venetian painting in the 16th century and for the central contribution that Venice was to make to the history of European art.

Peter Humfrey

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Bellini, Jacopo

(b Venice, c. 1400; d Venice, between 26 Aug 1470 and 25 Nov 1471).

Painter and draughtsman. His surviving work consists of some 20 paintings—mostly small-scale, intimate devotional pictures—and nearly 300 drawings, contained in two volumes (Paris, Louvre; London, BM). The drawings constitute a unique oeuvre for a 15th-century artist, both in regard to their number and their nature; most of them are finished, independent compositions. Most of Jacopo’s large-scale picture cycles and important commissioned works have been destroyed. Known only through documentary evidence and contemporary sources, they are an indication of the high esteem in which he was held both in Venice and beyond.

Ursula Lehmann-Brockhaus

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Bertoldo di Giovanni

(b ?Florence, c. 1430–?1440; d Poggio a Caiano, nr Florence, 28 Dec 1491).

Italian sculptor and medallist. Throughout most of his career he was a member of Lorenzo the Magnificent’s Florentine household and in his old age was put in charge of the academy that met in the Medici sculpture garden. Bertoldo’s work contributed to the antique revival, and, in particular, he developed the genre of the bronze statuette, of which six examples by him survive. He also produced bronze reliefs and medals as well as working in other media. It is very likely that he is identifiable with one Bertoldo di Giovanni di Bertoldo, who was involved in a minor commercial transaction in 1463.

James David Draper

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Boccaccio, Giovanni

(b ?nr Florence, 1313; d Certaldo, 21 Dec 1375).

Italian writer. He was the natural child of an unknown mother and Boccaccino di Chellino, a merchant banker. At the age of 14 Boccaccio was sent to Naples and apprenticed to a Florentine counting house; subsequently he attended the University of Naples, where he studied canon law and met many of the city’s leading scholars and humanists, including Paolo da Perugia, Andalo del Negro and Cina da Pistoia. Boccaccio’s desire to pursue a literary career eventually supplanted all other interests. One of the most influential writers of the 14th century, he is now known primarily for his works in Italian, in particular the Decameron. During his lifetime, however, such works in Latin as De claris mulieribus (1361), De casibus virorum illustrium (1355–60) and the immensely influential encyclopedia De genealogia deorum gentilium (written 1350–60; revised 1371–4) were the major sources of his fame and were often the subject of manuscript and book illustrations, especially in the 15th century.

Joan Isobel Friedman

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Bordone, Paris

Bordone [Bordon], Paris

(b Treviso, bapt 5 July 1500; d Venice, 19 Jan 1571).

Italian painter and draughtsman. He is best known for his strikingly beautiful depictions of women, both in portraits and in cabinet paintings. He also excelled in rendering monumental architectural settings for narrative, both religious and secular, possibly initiating a genre that would find great currency during the mid-16th century, especially in Venice, France and the Netherlands. His favoured media were oil and fresco, the latter being used on both interiors and façades. Although he was not generally sought after by Venetian patrons during his career, as his art was eclipsed by that of Titian, Paolo Veronese and Jacopo Tintoretto, Bordone was regarded in the mid-16th century as an accomplished artist (Pino; Sansovino). He worked for the moneyed élite of northern Italy and Bavaria, for the royalty of France and Poland, and had works commissioned to be sent to Spain and to Flanders.

Corinne Mandel

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Borghini, Vincenzo

Borghini, Vincenzo (Maria)

(b Florence, 29 Oct 1515; d Florence, 18 Aug 1580).

Italian philologist, historian and artistic adviser. On 20 June 1531 he entered the Benedictine Order at the Badia in Florence, took his vows a year later and was appointed a deacon in 1537. While there he was mainly concerned with studying Classical authors. After spending fairly brief periods in Perugia, Rome, Montecassino, Naples, Arezzo and Venice he settled in Florence in 1544 with the intention of devoting himself mainly to the study of literature and history. However, in 1552 Cosimo I de’ Medici entrusted him with the time-consuming post of spedaglino (hospitaller) to the Ospedale di S Maria degl’Innocenti. . . . From 1563 to 1565 he was Luogotenente of the recently founded Accademia del Disegno , whose constitution he shaped . . .

Marlis von Hessert

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Botticelli, Sandro

[Filipepi, Alessandro (di Mariano di Vanni)]

(b Florence, 1444–5; d Florence, 17 May 1510).

Italian painter and draughtsman. In his lifetime he was one of the most esteemed painters in Italy, enjoying the patronage of the leading families of Florence, in particular the Medici and their banking clients. He was summoned to take part in the decoration of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, was highly commended by diplomatic agents to Ludovico Sforza in Milan and Isabella d’Este in Mantua and also received enthusiastic praise from the famous mathematician Luca Pacioli and the humanist poet Ugolino Verino. By the time of his death, however, Botticelli’s reputation was already waning. . . . From that time his name virtually disappeared until the reassessment of his reputation that gathered momentum in the 1890s.

Charles Dempsey

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Bronzino, Agnolo

[Agniolo di Cosimo di Mariano Tori]

(b Monticelli, nr Florence, 17 Nov 1503; d Florence, 23 Nov 1572).

Italian painter and poet. He dominated Florentine painting from the 1530s to the 1560s. He was court artist to Cosimo I de’ Medici, and his sophisticated style and extraordinary technical ability were ideally suited to the needs and ideals of his ducal patron. He was a leading decorator, and his religious subjects and mythological scenes epitomize the grace of the high maniera style; his cool and highly disciplined portraits perfectly convey the atmosphere of the Medici court and of an intellectual élite.

Janet Cox-Rearick

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Brunelleschi, Filippo

(b Florence, 1377; d Florence, 16 April 1446).

Italian architect and sculptor. He is traditionally regarded as the father of Renaissance architecture, who, in the words of Vasari, ‘was sent by Heaven to invest architecture with new forms, after it had wandered astray for many centuries’. The ‘new forms’ were those of Classical antiquity, which Brunelleschi applied to such building types as churches and orphanages for which there were no ancient precedents. In these schemes he was the first since antiquity to make use of the Classical orders; at the same time he employed a proportional system of his own invention, in which all units were related to a simple module, the mathematical characteristics of which informed the entire structure. Brunelleschi worked almost exclusively in Florence, and many features link his architecture with the Romanesque—if not the Gothic—heritage of that city. Nevertheless, he was beyond question responsible for initiating the rediscovery of ancient Roman architecture. He understood its inherent principles and he employed them in an original manner for the building tasks of his own day.

Harold Meek

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Castagno, Andrea del

[Andrea di Bartolo di Simone di Bargiella; Andreino degli Impicchati]

(b Castagno, before 1419; d Florence, bur 19 Aug 1457).

Italian painter. He was the most influential 15th-century Florentine master, after Masaccio, of the realistic rendering of the figure and the representation of the human body as a three-dimensional solid by means of contours. By translating into the terms of painting the statues of the Florentine sculptors Nanni di Banco and Donatello, Castagno set Florentine painting on a course dominated by line (the Florentine tradition of disegno), the effect of relief and the sculptural depiction of the figure that became its distinctive trait throughout the Italian Renaissance, a trend that culminated in the art of Michelangelo.

Hellmut Wohl

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Castiglione, Baldassare

Castiglione, Baldassare [Baldesar], Conte

(b Casatico, nr Mantua, 6 Dec 1478; d Toledo, 2 Feb 1529).

Italian writer, humanist, diplomat and soldier. He was educated from 1490 to 1499 at the court of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, where he met Leonardo da Vinci and Giovanni Cristoforo Romano. He was in the service of Francesco II Gonzaga, 4th Marchese of Mantua, in 1499–1504, after which he was at the court of Urbino until 1516, serving first Guidobaldo I, Duke of Urbino, and afterwards his successor, Francesco-Maria I della Rovere. There he met Pietro Bembo, Ludovico da Canossa (1476–1532), Giuliano de’ Medici, Duc de Nemours, and Raphael, with whom he developed a strong friendship. In 1508 Castiglione began Il libro del cortegiano, for which he is best remembered. It was finished in 1518 and revised and published in 1528. In these fictitious dialogues, set in the palace rooms of Elisabetta Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, the courtiers, all historical persons, discuss the proper education for the ideal aristocrat. Castiglione dated the dialogues to 1506, when he was in fact in England representing Guidobaldo at the installation ceremony of the Order of the Garter. Il libro del cortegiano is divided into four books. In Book I, in the guise of Ludovico da Canossa, its interlocutor, Castiglione, expressed his views on sculpture and painting.

Doris Fletcher

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Cellini, Benvenuto

(b Florence, 3 Nov 1500; d Florence, 13 Feb 1571).

Italian goldsmith, medallist, sculptor and writer. He was one of the foremost Italian Mannerist artists of the 16th century, working in Rome for successive popes, in France for Francis I and in Florence for Cosimo I de’ Medici. Among his most famous works are the elaborate gold figural salt made for Francis I (Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.; see fig. below) and the bronze statue of Perseus (Florence, Loggia Lanzi). His Vita is among the most compelling autobiographies written by an artist and is generally considered to be an important work of Italian literature.

Alessandro Nova

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Cennini, Cennino

(b Colle di Val d’Elsa, nr Florence, c. 1370; d Florence, c. 1440).

Italian writer and painter. His father Andrea Cennini was also probably a painter. Cennino began his career in Florence as a pupil of Agnolo Gaddi, with whom he claimed to have spent 12 years. Agnolo was both a son and pupil of Taddeo Gaddi, who in turn had been taught by Giotto. Cennino, therefore, represented the third generation trained in the Giottesque tradition, a fact he proudly emphasized. He is cited in only two documents of 13 and 19 August 1398, in which he is recorded as a painter living in Padua, employed by Francesco II da Carrara, Lord of Padua, and married to Ricca di Cittadella. No signed or documented works by him have survived. . . . Cennini’s most important work is his practical treatise on the art of painting, Il libro dell’arte. It was written c. 1390 and is the earliest such treatise in Italian. It is thought to have been composed in Padua, as it contains many Venetian terms and was dedicated to St Antony of Padua (among others). The original manuscript does not survive, but three copies exist. . . . The treatise constitutes a fundamental source for the knowledge of early Italian painting techniques. Cennini described the complex stages of making a panel painting, from the initial preparation of the ground to the final stages of varnishing. . . . Although Cennini wrote his treatise in the tradition of such earlier medieval works as Theophilus’s De diversis artibus and Johannes Alcherius’s collection of recipes, his approach was different. He stressed the need to master practical skills but also encouraged the cultivation of the artist’s own unique style. In this, the treatise is a precursor of the Renaissance preoccupation with the nature of artistic creation. . . . Cennini’s treatise is not only of great historical value but continues to be of practical use. Its publication in the 19th century stimulated a renewed interest in tempera painting among such artists as the Birmingham painter Joseph Southall (1861–1944). The treatise is also an invaluable reference work for conservators and restorers.

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(b Arpinum [now Arpino, nr Frosinone], 3 Jan 106 BC; d Formiae [now Formia, Campagna], 7 Dec 43 BC).

Roman orator, statesman, philosopher and patron. His reverence for the past was reflected in both his public and private life. Having studied in Greece and apparently read at least one treatise on Greek art (see Brutus xviii.70), he was familiar with the work of the greatest Greek artists and alluded to Myron, Polykleitos, Pheidias, Lysippos, Apelles and to Greek art in general throughout his writings.

Valerie Hutchinson Pennanen

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[Cenni (Benciviene) di Pepo]

(b ?c. 1240; fl 1272; d Pisa, before 14 July 1302).

Italian painter and mosaicist. His nickname means either ‘bull-head’ or possibly ‘one who crushes the views of others’ (It. cimare: ‘top, shear, blunt’), an interpretation matching the tradition in commentaries on Dante that he was not merely proud of his work but contemptuous of criticism. Filippo Villani and Vasari assigned him the name Giovanni, but this has no historical foundation. He may be considered the most dramatic of those artists influenced by contemporary Byzantine painting through which antique qualities were introduced into Italian work in the late 13th century. His interest in Classical Roman drapery techniques and in the spatial and dramatic achievements of such contemporary sculptors as Nicola Pisano, however, distinguishes him from other leading members of this movement. As a result of his influence on such younger artists as Duccio and Giotto, the forceful qualities of his work and its openness to a wide range of sources, Cimabue appears to have had a direct personal influence on the subsequent course of Florentine, Tuscan and possibly Roman painting.

Robert Gibbs

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Cione, Jacopo di


(b Florence, 1320–30; d Florence, after 2 May 1398, before 1400).

Painter, brother of Andrea di Cione, Nardo di Cione and Matteo di Cione. . . . In 1366–7 he was to decorate the vault of a large chamber in the guildhall of the judges and notaries (destr.), Florence. In the same period Jacopo probably created the altarpiece with the Crucifixion (1366–8; London, N.G.), although the execution of the outer groups of figures and the mounted groups was left to Simone, a collaborator. As a result of his brother Andrea’s illness, Jacopo took over some of his commissions. The painting of the Virgin (destr.) in the audience chamber of the capitani of the confraternity of Orsanmichele was begun by Andrea, and on 9 June 1368 Jacopo guaranteed to complete it. In 1368 Jacopo also received the commission that had originally been awarded to Andrea for the altarpiece of St Matthew (Florence, Uffizi) for a pier altar in Orsanmichele. The work is characterized by a predominance of flat surfaces and gold ground and lacks any illusion of corporeal, spatial reality.

G. Kreytenberg

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Shaped like a round shield, from the Latin word for that type of shield.

Condivi, Ascanio

(b Ripatransone, nr Ascoli Piceno, 1525; d nr Ripatransone, 10 Dec 1574).

Italian painter and writer. His work, unanimously considered mediocre, is now known through a few surviving religious paintings. He is known principally for his biography of Michelangelo. He moved to Rome c. 1545, where he established contact with Michelangelo and, in the early 1550s, wrote his Vita di Michelagnolo Buonarroti (1553). He probably wrote it directly under Michelangelo’s influence. Everyday details abound, and Condivi’s friendship with Michelangelo is stressed in order to contest certain aspects of Vasari’s biography (1550) and to defend Michelangelo from hostile allegations of his indifference to teaching, his arrogance, professional jealousy, avarice and homosexuality.

François Quiviger

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Crivelli, Vittore


(b Venice, 1444–9; d Fermo, after 10 Nov 1501).

Brother of Carlo Crivelli. Like Carlo, Vittore always signed himself as a Venetian. He followed his brother to Zara, where he is documented from 1465. He probably spent some time in Carlo’s workshop, although there is only one surviving collaborative work, a polyptych for the church of S Martino at Montesanmartino (in situ). . . . Vittore’s last dated work, a Virgin and Child (1501; Paris, Louvre), indicates how little his style changed from works dated 20 years earlier. His oeuvre, which is variable in quality, may be seen at its best in the early polyptych painted for S Francesco in Fermo, now dismembered (Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.). The high quality of this work was recognized during his lifetime, since a contract of 1491 cites it as an exemplar.

Thomas Tolley

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Daniele da Volterra

[Ricciarelli, Daniele]

(b Volterra, 1509; d Rome, 4 April 1566).

Italian painter, stuccoist and sculptor. Much of the fascination of his career resides in the development of his style from provincial origins to a highly sophisticated manner, combining the most accomplished elements of the art of Michelangelo, Raphael and their Mannerist followers in a distinctive and highly original way. He provided an influential model for numerous later artists in Rome.

Paul Barolsky

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Desiderio da Settignano

(b Settignano, nr Florence, 1429–32; d Florence, bur 16 Jan 1464). Italian sculptor. His career lasted only about 12 years, but during that time he produced some of the most delicate and intimate sculptural works of mid-15th-century Florence. There are problems of dating and attribution even with his partially documented works, and records survive of several unidentifiable commissions; consequently, it is difficult to chart the course of his stylistic development, and the reliefs and portrait busts attributed to him are grouped around two works: the tomb of Carlo Marsuppini (Florence, Santa Croce) and the sacrament tabernacle (Florence, S Lorenzo).

Shelley E. Zuraw

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(b Dalmatia, 22 Dec AD ?244; reg AD 284–305; d ?3 Dec AD 311). Roman emperor and patron. In order to strengthen Imperial control at a time of extreme danger to the Roman world, Diocletian created the Tetrarchy in AD 293, a four-man system under which two Caesars were appointed: one served under Diocletian, the Augustus in the East, the other under Maximian, the Augustus in the West. The whole was held together only by the personality and authority of Diocletian himself, so that by the time of his death the Empire was once again beset by civil wars; his division of the Empire, however, and many of his administrative reforms lasted for much longer.

Kim Richardson

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Disegno e colore

Controversy that developed in Italy in the 16th century over the relative merits of design or drawing (It. disegno) and colour (colore). It was fundamentally a debate over whether the value of a painting lay in the idea originating in the artist’s mind (the invention), which was explored through drawings made prior to the painting’s execution, or in the more lifelike imitation of nature, achieved through colour and the process of painting itself. The disegno e colore debate focused on the rivalry between the two dominant traditions of 16th-century Italian painting, Central Italian and Venetian. Central Italian, especially Florentine, painting depended on drawing and on the use of preparatory studies and cartoons, and the depiction of the human figure was the supreme test of an artist’s skill; Venetian painters built up their pictures directly on the canvas, creating a more spontaneous and expressive art. The difference between the two approaches was formulated in the writings of Giorgio Vasari and Lodovico Dolce.

Claire Pace

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Duccio (di Buoninsegna)

(fl 1278; d Siena, before 3 Aug 1319). Italian painter. He was one of the most important painters of the 14th century and like his slightly younger contemporary, Giotto, was a major influence on the course of Italian painting. An innovator, he introduced into Sienese painting new altarpiece designs, a dramatic use of landscape, expressive emotional relationships, extremely complex spatial structures and a subtle interplay of colour. His most important and revolutionary work, the Maestà for Siena Cathedral, was never matched during the 14th century, if at all, and his influence lasted well into the 15th century.

Dillian Gordon

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Dürer, Albrecht

(b Nuremberg, 21 May 1471; d Nuremberg, 6 April 1528). Painter, draughtsman, printmaker and writer. Now considered by many scholars the greatest of all German artists, he not only executed paintings and drawings of the highest quality but also made a major contribution to the development of printmaking, especially engraving, and to the study of anthropometry.

Peter Strieder

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Equicola, Mario

(b Alvito, nr Frosinone, c. 1470; d Mantua, 1525). Italian writer. He was a courtier and man of letters, first in the service of the Cantelmo family of Sora, then at the Este court in Ferrara, and finally, for many years, at that of the Gonzaga in Mantua. His writings, not numerous but varied in subject, reflect the interests and manners prevailing in the Italian courts during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Marco Collareta

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Este, Isabella d’

Marchesa of Mantua

(b Ferrara, 18 May 1474; d Mantua, 13 Feb 1539).

Daughter of Ercole I d’Este. She was brought up in the cultivated atmosphere of her parents’ court at Ferrara, where she studied with tutors, including the humanist scholars Giovanni Battista Guarino and Mario Equicola. Her intelligence was particularly noted by the envoys sent to assess her by Francesco II Gonzaga, Marchese of Mantua, whom she married in 1490, when she was 16. Her private quarters in Mantua were in the tower of the Castello di S Giorgio, part of the complex of buildings which make up the Ducal Palace. The apartment included her first studiolo and the cave-like grotta beneath, which housed her collection of antiquities. Her fame as a patron is due to the decorations she commissioned for her studiolo, a set of paintings of Classical and allegorical subjects, rather than the religious works associated with other female patrons.

Clifford M. Brown

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Florence: Accademia del Disegno

The Accademia was based on the Compagnia di S Luca (founded 1349), an association of artists of a religious character, and was constituted in 1563 largely at the instigation of Giorgio Vasari. Its numbers increased in 1571 when more artists broke away from the Arte dei Medici e Speziali (founded 13th century) and the masons’ guild (founded 1236). The enlarged institution became the sole officially recognized professional body representing Florentine artists, and the school of art. In its final legal form, established in 1585, it comprised the Compagnia and the Accademia sensu stricto, and it was administered on behalf of the court by a Luogotenente (lieutenant) drawn from a distinguished Florentine family. The Accademia survived in this form until it was replaced in 1784 by the Accademia di Belle Arti, founded by Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Z. Waźbiński

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Florence: Medici Academy

Lorenzo the Magnificent developed lands at the Piazza S Marco (lands that his grandsire Cosimo had begun assembling in the 1450s, as Elam demonstrated) into a retreat with reception rooms as well as pleasant grounds. By 1480 the property was well-enough developed to show the Cardinal of Aragon its library and garden. Accounts by Benedetto Varchi and Vasari state that it was ‘filled with antique and modern sculptures, in such a way that the loggia, the paths and all the rooms were adorned with good antique figures of marble, with paintings . . . from the hands of the best masters’ (Vasari). According to them, young artists and aristocrats, including Michelangelo, were placed in the care of Bertoldo di Giovanni to study the examples of ancient art, forming a ‘school and academy’ that Pevsner defined as working to the ‘first modern method’. As Bertoldo and Lorenzo died in 1491 and 1492 respectively, their involvement in the project would have been brief. The garden’s contents were sacked in 1494 by French troops under Charles VIII.

James David Draper

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Fontana, Lavinia

(b Bologna, bapt 24 Aug 1552; d Rome, 11 Aug 1614). Daughter of Prospero Fontana. She was trained by her father and followed his Mannerist style. Her first recorded works, which date from 1575, were small paintings for private devotion, such as the Holy Family (Dresden, Gemäldegal.). By 1577 she had become established as a portrait painter in Bologna. . . . Her portrait style reflects the formality of Central Italian models as well as the naturalistic tendencies of the North Italian tradition. . . . In naturalism and treatment of detail her portraits are comparable with those of her famous North Italian predecessor, Sofonisba Anguissola (e.g. Portrait of a Woman, 1557; Berlin, Gemäldegal.).

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[Francesco di Cristofano Giudicis]

(b Florence, 30 Jan 1484; d Florence, 14 Jan 1525). Italian painter. The son of a Milanese linen-weaver, he had completed his apprenticeship, in Florence, by 18 October 1504. His earliest documented works, for example a Pietà (1506) for S Pancrazio, Florence, have not survived. According to Vasari, Franciabigio trained with Mariotto Albertinelli, in whose last work, the signed and dated Crucifixion (1506; Florence, Certosa del Galluzzo, Pin.), he painted the angels (Shearman). In December 1508 the names of Franciabigio and Andre del Sarto, who sometime between autumn 1506 and 1509 set up a joint workshop, were entered in the registration book of the Arte de’ Medici e Speziali, to which painters were required to belong.

Andrew John Martin

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Gentileschi, Artemisia

(b Rome, 8 July 1593; d Naples, after Jan. 1654). Daughter of Orazio Gentileschi. She was among the first Italian female painters whose artistic achievements were praised by her contemporaries. She worked for several European rulers and ran an impressive workshop during her more than 20 years in Naples. She worked in Rome, Florence, Venice and Naples, and spent a brief period in London in the late 1630s. From the beginning she refused to limit herself to portraits, still-lifes and small devotional pictures, the staples of most women artists in the 16th and 17th centuries, but established herself immediately as an ambitious history painter and was also highly sought after as a painter of the female nude.

Ann Sutherland Harris and Judith W. Mann

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A mixture of finely ground plaster and glue applied to wood panels to create a smooth painting surface.

Ghiberti, Lorenzo

Lorenzo (di Cione) Ghiberti

(b Florence, 1378; d Florence, 1 Dec 1455).

Bronze-caster, sculptor, goldsmith, draughtsman, architect and writer. He was the most celebrated bronze-caster and goldsmith in early 15th-century Florence, and his many-sided activity makes him the first great representative of the universal artist of the Renaissance. His richly decorative and elegant art, which reached its most brilliant expression in the Gates of Paradise (Florence, Baptistery), did not break dramatically with the tradition of Late Gothic, yet Ghiberti was undoubtedly one of the great creative personalities of early Renaissance art; no contemporary artist had so deep an influence on the art and sculpture of later times. His art, in which idealism and realism are fused, reflects the discovery of Classical art as truly as the realism of Donatello, and to label Ghiberti a traditionalist is to define the Renaissance art of the early 15th century one-sidedly in terms of increased realism. His competition relief of the Sacrifice of Isaac (1401; Florence, Bargello) determined the development of low relief not only in the 15th century but through the stylistic periods of Mannerism and Baroque, and up until the work of Rodin in the 19th century. Ghiberti’s writings, I commentarii, which include his autobiography, established him as the first modern historian of the fine arts, and bear witness to his ideal of humanistic education and culture. He was wealthier than most of his contemporary artists, and he owned considerable land and securities.

Manfred Wundram

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Ghirlandaio, Domenico

(b Florence, 1448–9; d Florence, 11 Jan 1494).

Painter, mosaicist and possibly goldsmith. He was head of one of the most active workshops in late 15th-century Florence. He developed a style of religious narrative that blended the contemporary with the historical in a way that updated the basic tenets of early Renaissance art. Domenico’s documented material situation—prosperous, land-owning—conflicts with Vasari’s description of him as unconcerned with wealth and business, and he emerges as an enterprising, versatile craftsman, the artisan and bourgeois nature of his life making him perfectly suited to satisfying the tastes and aspirations of his patrons.

Jean K. Cadogan

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[Bologna, Giovanni; Boulogne, Jean]

(b Douai, 1529; d Florence, 1608). Flemish sculptor, active in Italy. Born and trained in Flanders, he travelled to Italy in 1550 to study the masterpieces of Classical and Renaissance sculpture. On his way home, he visited Florence (c. 1552) and was persuaded to settle there under the patronage of the Medici dukes, eventually becoming their court sculptor. As a sculptor, Giambologna grafted an understanding of the formal aspect of Michelangelo’s statuary on to a thorough reappraisal of Greco-Roman sculpture, as it was being daily revealed in new excavations. Particularly influential were the ambitious representations of figures and groups in violent movement, and the technical finesse of late Hellenistic work, most of which had not been available to earlier generations (e.g. the Farnese Bull; Naples, Mus. Archeol. N.; excavated in 1546).

Charles Avery

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[Zorzi da Castelfranco; Zorzon]

(b Castelfranco Veneto, ?1477–8; d Venice, before 7 Nov 1510).

Italian painter. He is generally and justifiably regarded as the founder of Venetian painting of the 16th century. Within a brief career of no more than 15 years he created a radically innovative style based on a novel pictorial technique, which provided the starting-point for the art of Titian, the dominant personality of the 16th century in Venice. Although he apparently enjoyed a certain fame as a painter of external frescoes, Giorgione specialized above all in relatively small-scale pictures, painted for private use in the home. A high proportion of his subjects were drawn from, or inspired by, mythology and secular literature. Landscape played an important role in many of his compositions, and particular attention was often paid to the representation of storms, sunsets and other such natural phenomena. Giorgione was evidently also prized as a painter of portraits, many of them ‘fancy’ portraits, or views in close-up of the kind of poetic or mythological figure also seen in his narratives. His exploitation of a taste for such works within a circle of aesthetically sophisticated Venetian patricians in turn provided the context for the creation of an entirely novel range of pictorial images.

Peter Humfrey, Martin Kemp

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Giotto (di Bondone)

(b ?Vespignano, nr Florence, 1267–75; d Florence, 8 Jan 1337).

Italian painter and designer. In his own time and place he had an unrivalled reputation as the best painter and as an innovator, superior to all his predecessors, and he became the first post-Classical artist whose fame extended beyond his lifetime and usual residence. This was partly the consequence of the rich literary culture of two of the cities where he worked, Padua and Florence. Writing on art in Florence was pioneered by gifted authors and, although not quite art criticism, it involved the comparison of local artists in terms of quality. The most famous single appreciation is found in Dante’s verses (Purgatory xi) of 1315 or earlier. . . . About the same date, Giotto’s unique status was suggested by his inclusion, unprecedented for an artist, in a world chronicle (c. 1312–13) by Riccobaldo Ferrarese. The artist’s name first became synonymous with ‘the best painting’ in a poem by the Florentine Cecco d’Ascoli (d 1327) and, more subtly, in several observations by Petrarch. . . . Giotto’s frescoes in the Arena Chapel (Capella degli Scrovegni) at Padua comprise his earliest work of known date and that on which our idea of his art is chiefly based. . . . Praise of Giotto began by claiming that he was not indebted to his predecessors; his naturalism was contrasted with the Byzantine ‘Greek manner’ of Cimabue, with whom he is traditionally thought to have trained. The notion of a rigid, lifeless Byzantine art, however, has been challenged, and such works as Cimabue’s Assisi Crucifixion fresco have been shown to stress similar dramatic human concerns to those found in Giotto’s work; differences occur in the drawing of the figures, where Byzantine conventions are rejected by Giotto and a more naturalistic style, much influenced by French Gothic sculpture and Classical Roman work, is adopted.

Creighton E. Gilbert

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Sworn association, typically of merchants, craftsmen or tradesmen. Most guilds were associated with a particular town or city. They flourished in Europe in the medieval period and had considerable social, political, economic and religious power. Additionally, craft guilds often monitored training, standards of production and the welfare of their members. Significant patronage was provided by religious, social and commercial confraternities. Information on the activity of specific guilds is given in this dictionary within the relevant articles on cities and on countries (in the latter, especially under ‘Painting and graphic arts’ or ‘Art education’).

Richard Mackenney

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Lay confraternity

Religious organizations of lay people (members of the church who are not clergy), sometimes organized by profession or guild, who undertook charitable roles and duties like that of tending the dying or condemned.

Leonardo da Vinci

(b Anchiano, nr Vinci, 15 April 1452; d Amboise, nr Tours, 2 May 1519).

Italian painter, sculptor, architect, designer, theorist, engineer and scientist. He was the founding father of what is called the High Renaissance style and exercised an enormous influence on contemporary and later artists. His writings on art helped establish the ideals of representation and expression that were to dominate European academies for the next 400 years. The standards he set in figure draughtsmanship, handling of space, depiction of light and shade, representation of landscape, evocation of character and techniques of narrative radically transformed the range of art. A number of his inventions in architecture and in various fields of decoration entered the general currency of 16th-century design. Although he brought relatively few works to completion, and even fewer have survived, Leonardo was responsible for some of the most influential images in the history of art.

Martin Kemp

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Lippi, Filippino

(b Prato, c. 1457; d Florence, 18 April 1504).

Son of Filippo Lippi. He was a painter of altarpieces, cassone panels and frescoes and also an exceptional draughtsman. His success lay in his ability to absorb, without slavishly following, the most popular trends in contemporary painting. He worked in Florence and Rome at a time when patrons were beginning to intermingle personal, religious, social and political ideals in their ambitions for palaces and chapels: with the support of wealthy and erudite patrons, such as Lorenzo de’ Medici (‘il Magnifico’) and Filippo Strozzi, he won important civic and private commissions. Lippi’s most distinguished achievement was the decoration of the Strozzi Chapel in S Maria Novella, Florence.

Marilyn Bradshaw

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Italian family of artists. Pietro Lombardo and his sons, Tullio Lombardo and Antonio Lombardo, were dominant figures in Venetian sculpture and architecture from c. 1465 until the death of Tullio in 1532. Because Pietro was born in Carona, the place of origin of the Solari, a famous family of stone-carvers, it is assumed that he was a member of that family. For this reason, members of the Lombardi family are sometimes referred to by the name of Solari, although only Antonio’s sons used the name themselves. Pietro transformed Tuscan Renaissance prototypes into a Venetian style . . .  The typical features of this style, a simple, planar architecture covered with beautifully carved low-relief ornament, were so widely imitated that the designation Lombardesque was coined to characterize it as a Venetian phenomenon of the late 15th century and the early 16th.

Sarah Blake McHam

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Lombardo, Antonio

(b ?c. 1458; d Ferrara, ?1516). Sculptor, son of Pietro Lombardo. Unlike Pietro and his brother Tullio, he practised sculpture exclusively, and he worked in bronze as well as marble. He was trained in his father’s workshop, but his specific role is difficult to discern before the funerary monument to Bishop Zanetti in Treviso Cathedral in the late 1480s. He has been convincingly credited with the carving of the extremely realistic portrait of the deceased bishop and with the eagle and some of the decorative carving on the sarcophagus (Munman, 1977). Much of the decorative carving on the base of the Vendramin tomb (Venice, SS Giovanni e Paolo) has also been attributed to Antonio (Sheard, 1971), as has the relief of the Baptism on the Giovanni Mocenigo monument (Venice, SS Giovanni e Paolo).

Sarah Blake McHam

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Lombardo, Pietro

[Pietro Solari]

(b Carona, Lombardy, c. 1435; d Venice, June 1515). Sculptor and architect. He is first documented in Bologna, where he rented a workshop at S Petronio between July 1462 and May 1463, presumably to work on some commission for the cathedral, perhaps the Rossi Chapel chancel (Beck, 1968). By 1464 he and his family had moved to Padua, where his most important work was the wall tomb of Doge Antonio Roselli in S Antonio (Il Santo), which he designed in early 1464 and finished by 8 April 1467 (Moschetti, 1913, 1914). The Roselli tomb introduced the 15th-century Florentine humanist tomb type into the region and marks the beginning of true Renaissance sculpture in the Veneto

Sarah Blake McHam

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Lombardo, Tullio

(b ?c. 1455; d Venice, 17 Nov 1532). Sculptor and architect, son of Pietro Lombardo. Tullio, together with his brother Antonio, is first mentioned in a letter of 1475 written by Matteo Collaccio that has been traditionally construed to mean that by the mid-1470s the brothers were active in their father’s workshop, contributing to secondary aspects of commissions. Maek-Gérard (1974, 1980), however, argued that Tullio and Antonio were born in Padua in the 1460s, about ten years later than is usually assumed. The later birthdates would explain the difficulty of distinguishing their role in the family workshop before the late 1480s. It would also mean that, since they were born in Padua, both were citizens of the Venetian Empire, which, Maek-Gérard contended, explained their continued receipt of important Venetian commissions in the early 16th century after the Venetian sculptors’ guild had curtailed the rights of non-Venetian sculptors.

Sarah Blake McHam

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Lorenzo di Credi

[Lorenzo d’Andrea d’Oderigo]

(b Florence, c. 1456; d Florence, 1536). Italian painter and draughtsman. He was a fellow pupil of Leonardo da Vinci and Perugino in the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio. In 1482–3 he took over the workshop, and by 1490–1500 he occupied an important position in Florentine art life. He is known primarily for his devotional paintings, although he was also much in demand as a portrait painter and was a sensitive draughtsman.

G. Dalli Regoli

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Lucian of Samosata

(b Samosata, c. AD 120; d before 180). Author, writing in Greek, of North African birth. Towards the end of a prolific literary career, around 163 AD, he wrote the Imagines (Gr. Eikones), a panegyric couched in dialogue form, which is one of several texts surviving from the age of the Second Sophistic that include extensive descriptions of works of art (see also Philostratos). Also of interest for the history of painting is Lucian’s Zeuxis, a discussion of the idea of innovation, which includes a detailed description of a copy of the Centaur Family, a famous work by the Athenian painter Zeuxis, depicting a family of centaurs in an idyllic landscape. In the Renaissance the popularity of Lucian’s art writings influenced such artists as Sodoma and Botticelli; the latter incorporated many elements from Lucian’s description of Aetion’s Wedding of Alexander the Great and Roxane (327 BC; destr.) in his Mars and Venus (London, N.G.)

Dominic Montserrat

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Maiano, Benedetto da

(b Maiano, nr Florence, 1442; d Florence, 24 May 1497).

Sculptor and wood-carver, brother of Giuliano da Maiano. He was technically one of the most accomplished marble-carvers of the 15th century and the foremost sculptor in Florence of the generation following Bernardo Rossellino. Technical difficulties had been largely overcome by his predecessors, however, and he lacked the innovative qualities of Rossellino’s generation. There are close parallels between Benedetto and his contemporary and sometime collaborator Domenico Ghirlandaio in their technical proficiency, powers of narrative expression, excellent portraiture and adherence to traditional techniques.

Gary M. Radke

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Mantegna, Andrea

(b Isola di Carturo, nr Padua, 1430–31; d Mantua 13 Sept 1506).

Italian painter and printmaker. He occupies a pre-eminent position among Italian artists of the 15th century. The profound enthusiasm for the civilization of ancient Rome that infuses his entire oeuvre was unprecedented in a painter. In addition to its antiquarian content, his art is characterized by brilliant compositional solutions, the bold and innovative use of perspective and foreshortening and a precise and deliberate manner of execution, an aspect that was commented on during his lifetime. He was held in great esteem by his contemporaries for his learning and skill and, significantly, he is the only artist of the period to have left a small corpus of self-portraits . . . His printmaking activity is technically advanced and of great importance, although certain aspects of the execution remain to be clarified. Due to the survival of both the Paduan and Mantuan archives, Mantegna is one of the best-documented artists of the 15th century.

Gabriele Finaldi

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[Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Mone Cassai]

(b San Giovanni Val d’Arno, 21 Dec 1401; d Rome, before late June 1428). Italian painter. He is regarded as the founder of Italian Renaissance painting, a view established within a decade of his death. . . . Among the painters of his time, he was the first to organize his compositions according to the system of linear perspective developed by Brunelleschi. He thus transposed into painting the mathematically proportioned spaces and Classical architectural vocabulary of Brunelleschi’s buildings, as well as the realistic anatomical structure, heavy draperies and human grandeur of Donatello’s statues. He was also inspired by the paintings of Giotto and the art of antiquity. Masaccio’s revival of Giotto’s monumentality and concentration on volume was, like the writings by humanists on Florentine history, an affirmation of the greatness and enduring values of the Florentine past.

Hellmut Wohl

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Medici, Cosimo I de’

Grand Duke of Tuscany

(b Florence, 11 June 1519; reg 1569–74; d Castello, 21 April 1574).

Nephew of (10) Ottaviano de’ Medici. His mother, Maria Salviati (d 1543), was a granddaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent; his father, the professional soldier Giovanni delle Bande Nere (1498–1526), was killed when Cosimo was seven. When, in 1537, Lorenzino de’ Medici murdered Alessandro de’ Medici, the tyrannical Duke of Florence, Cosimo was the only available successor. Initially his power was limited, but he became Duke of Florence in 1537, after his victory at the Battle of Montemurlo, and Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1569. Cosimo, more powerful than any earlier Medici, strove to create a court whose splendour should rival the proudest European courts and to express the triumphs and ambitions of his dynasty through the architectural magnificence of his palazzi and public works. He cultivated the myth of the great tradition of Medici art patronage, restoring the plundered Palazzo Medici, and reassembling and enriching the Biblioteca Laurenziana, founded by Cosimo il vecchio.  . . . Humanists and poets, such as Vincenzo Borghini, and artists, such as Agnolo Bronzino, Benvenuto Cellini, Pierino da Vinci and Giorgio Vasari, gathered around him and enhanced his glory and power. In 1554 he established the Arazzeria Medicea, and he was joint head, with Michelangelo, of the Accademia del Disegno.

Marlis von Hessert

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Medici, Lorenzo de’

Lorenzo the Magnificent [Lorenzo de’ Medici; Lorenzo il Magnifico], Lord of Florence

(b Florence, Jan 1449; reg 1469; d Florence, 8 April 1492).

Son of Piero de’ Medici. In 1469 Piero organized a joust to celebrate Lorenzo’s marriage to Clarice Orsini, and in the same year the succession passed, without discord, to Lorenzo. The Pazzi conspiracy (1478) and the following war challenged Medici predominance, yet Lorenzo’s leadership was consolidated by constitutional changes and by his securing peace with the papacy in 1480.

Lorenzo was both ruler and scholar. A distinguished vernacular poet, he was also passionately interested in Classical antiquity and became the centre of a humanist circle of poets, artists and philosophers, which included Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Angelo Poliziano, Botticelli, Bertoldo di Giovanni and Michelangelo. His taste in architecture was formed by Leon Battista Alberti, with whom he had studied antiques in Rome in 1465 and whose treatise he read repeatedly. He showed great interest in the architectural projects of his day; this has stimulated a debate on whether he may have been an amateur architect. Even if Lorenzo was not a practising architect, there is no doubt that Giuliano da Sangallo, whom he saw as able to revive the glories of antiquity, worked in close collaboration with him.

Lorenzo’s interest in antiquity is further underlined by the keenness with which he built up an expensive collection of antiquities, including sculptures, gems, cameos, vases and large-scale marble sculpture. . . . Moreover, he established a sculpture garden at S Marco, where he encouraged Michelangelo to study from the Antique, and before 1492 Michelangelo had carved his Virgin of the Steps and the Battle of the Centaurs (both Florence, Casa Buonarroti). Both Bertoldo and Michelangelo formed part of Lorenzo’s household, and this treatment of artists as the equals of humanist scholars and poets was unprecedented in Republican Florence. It introduced a new type of patronage and was associated with an increasing emphasis on the production of collector’s pieces.

Mary Bonn

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Medici, Piero de’

Piero (di Cosimo) [the Gouty] de’ Medici, Lord of Florence

(b Florence, 1416; reg 1464–9; d Florence, 3 Dec 1469).

Son of Cosimo de’ Medici. Raised in early humanist Florence, he was trained to assume his father’s civic and cultural leadership. His artistic tastes were apparently stimulated less by the aesthetic ideals of Republican Florence, however, than by those manifested in such north Italian centres of patronage as Ferrara and Venice, where the Medici lived in exile in 1433–4. Piero watched over family interests at the Council of Ferrara (1437–9) and responded positively to the style of Este court patronage, which he may have sought to emulate (with the wealth of the Medici bank behind him) in the decorations he commissioned for the new Palazzo Medici in Florence. His aesthetic preferences may be deduced from such commissions, which contrast with the large-scale ecclesiastical projects that his father sponsored: typically they show precise, often minute detailing (as in a bust of Piero by Mino da Fiesole), brilliant and resonating colour and rich surface finish.

Francis Ames-Lewis

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Michelangelo (Buonarroti) [Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni]

(b Caprese, ?6 March 1475; d Rome, 18 Feb 1564). Italian sculptor, painter, draughtsman and architect. The elaborate exequies held in Florence after Michelangelo’s death celebrated him as the greatest practitioner of the three visual arts of sculpture, painting and architecture and as a respected poet. He is a central figure in the history of art: one of the chief creators of the Roman High Renaissance, and the supreme representative of the Florentine valuation of disegno. As a poet and a student of anatomy, he is often cited as an example of the ‘universal genius’ supposedly typical of the period. His professional career lasted over 70 years, during which he participated in, and often stimulated, great stylistic changes. The characteristic most closely associated with him is terribilità, a term indicative of heroic and awe-inspiring grandeur.

Anthony Hughes

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Montorsoli, Giovanni Angelo

(b Montorsoli, nr Florence, ?1507; d Florence, 31 Aug 1563). Italian sculptor and architect. After a three-year apprenticeship with Andrea di Piero Ferrucci, he worked as an assistant in Rome (producing rosettes on the cornices of St Peter’s), Perugia and Volterra. He then went to Florence to work on the New Sacristy (Medici Chapel) and the Biblioteca Laurenziana at S Lorenzo, probably from 1524; the influence of Michelangelo was to prove decisive. Work at S Lorenzo was suspended as a result of the expulsion of the Medici in 1527, and Montorsoli decided to enter a religious order; he was inducted into the Servite Order at SS Annunziata in 1530, taking his vows in 1531. For his monastery church he restored the wax portraits of the Medici family, which had been destroyed in 1527 . . .  In 1532 Michelangelo recommended him to Clement VII to restore antique statues in the Vatican; his restorations of the Laokoon group and the Apollo Belvedere (both Rome, Vatican, Mus. Pio-Clementino) ensured their enduring fame.

Karl Möseneder

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Nanni di Banco

(b Florence, c. 1380–85; d Florence, 1421). Italian sculptor. His father, Antonio di Banco (d 1415), a stone-carver at Florence Cathedral with whom he trained, was married in 1368, which provides a terminus post quem for Nanni’s birth. On 2 February 1405 Nanni matriculated in the Arte di Pietra e Legname, the masons’ guild, presumably to allow him into the cathedral workshops. He is first documented there on 31 December 1407, working with his father on the archivolt sculpture of the Porta della Mandorla.

John T. Paoletti

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Neri di Bicci

(b Florence, 1418; d Florence, 4 Jan 1492). Italian painter, son of Bicci di Lorenzo. He was the last artist member of the family, whose workshop can be traced back to his grandfather Lorenzo di Bicci. Under Neri’s direction, the workshop was extremely successful and catered to a wide variety of patrons. The details of its activity, including the names of the many pupils and assistants that passed through it, are recorded between 1453 and 1475 in the workshop diary, the Ricordanze, the most extensive surviving document relating to a 15th-century painter.

Bruno Santi

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Term used to refer specifically to the rivalry of the arts of painting and sculpture. In 1817 in Manzi’s edition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Trattato della pittura the word appeared as the title to Leonardo’s witty defence of painting against the arts of poetry, music and sculpture, although it had not had this association before. Polemical comparisons of the arts are widely documented in 16th-century sources, yet a comprehensive work on the subject has never been attempted.

Claire Farago

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Term used in two main senses with respect to art: generally, for any systematic technique that renders the illusion of recession behind a two-dimensional surface (including receding lines, gradients of colour, tone and texture, degrees of clarity etc); but also more specifically, for the geometrical technique of linear perspective, the modern form of which was invented in the early Renaissance. . . . At its simplest, linear perspective relies on the way in which sets of inclined lines tend to be read as signalling some degree of space behind the surface on which they are drawn.

Janis Callen Bell

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[Vannucci, Pietro di Cristoforo]

(b Città della Pieve, c. 1450; d Fontignano, ?Feb 1523).

Italian painter and draughtsman. He was active in Perugia, Florence and Rome in the late 15th century and early 16th. Although he is now known mainly as the teacher of Raphael, he made a significant contribution to the development of painting from the style of the early Renaissance to the High Renaissance. The compositional model he introduced, combining the Florentine figural style with an Umbrian use of structure and space, was taken up by Raphael and became widely influential throughout Europe.

Sylvia Ferino Pagden

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Piero di Cosimo

[Piero di Lorenzo di Piero d’Antonio]

(b ?Florence, 1461–2; d Florence ?1521). Italian painter and draughtsman. . . . By 1480 Piero appears no longer to have been living at the family house in the Via della Scala, Florence, but was an unsalaried apprentice or workshop assistant to Cosimo Rosselli, from whom he received room and board and eventually took the name of Piero di Cosimo. . . . Despite Piero di Cosimo’s significant contribution to landscape painting, his imaginative, unorthodox and often poignant treatment of pagan as well as Christian subjects and the vital role he played in the formation of some of the most important artists working in Florence in the first quarter of the 16th century (Fra Bartolommeo, Mariotto Albertinelli, Jacopo Pontormo and possibly Andrea del Sarto were among his pupils), he was for centuries better known for the personal eccentricity that constitutes the focus of Vasari’s biography.

William Griswold

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[Pisano, Antonio]

(b Pisa or Verona, by 1395; d ?c. Oct 1455).

Italian painter, draughtsman and medallist. His richly decorative frescoes, courtly and elegant painted portraits and highly original portrait medals made him one of the most popular artists of the day. He travelled extensively and worked for several Italian courts, at Mantua, Ferrara, Pavia, Milan and Naples. Many of his paintings have been lost or damaged, making a reconstruction of his career difficult. He is now better known as a medallist.

Renzo Chiarelli, J. G. Pollard

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Pisano, Andrea

[Andrea da Pontedera]

(b Pontedera, c. 1295; d ?Orvieto, 1348–9). He was the son of the Pisan Notary Ugolino di Nino and the father of (2) Nino Pisano and (3) Tommaso Pisano. He was a goldsmith, sculptor and Master of the Cathedral Works in both Florence and Orvieto, a position that was not necessarily connected to the function of architect. His artistic importance derives principally from the fact that he adapted the ‘principles of monumental painting’ developed by Giotto ‘to the medium of relief’ (Falk 1940), and by so doing gave a decisive impetus to the development from the Gothic conception of a draped figure towards the weightiness of the Renaissance standing figure with its organically related drapery.

G. Kreytenberg

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Pliny the elder

(b Comum [now Como, Italy], AD 23 or 24; d Bay of Naples, 24 Aug 79).

He was the author of the encyclopedic Natural History in 37 books, of which Books XXXIII–XXXVII on stones and metals offer the sole surviving history of art from antiquity. The text is eclectic, combining excerpts of earlier treatises from the 5th to the 1st century BC with Pliny’s own topical comments about the setting and meaning of art in mid-1st century AD Rome. Preserved through the Middle Ages, the Natural History exerted an enormous influence on artists and theoreticians from the Renaissance on. In particular Pliny’s historical scheme of an artistic evolution culminating in Greek art of the 5th and 4th centuries BC, with its vivid anecdotes about individual works and artists, fuelled movements of classicism and provided a foundation for the discipline of art history.

Bettina Bergmann

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(b Khaironeia, c. AD 50; d Delphi, after 120).

Greek priest and author. Plutarch’s prolific writings include many metaphors drawn from art and artistic production, but his principal contributions to art history are two antiquarian works on Greek and Roman religious customs, Quaestiones graecae (Gr. Aitia hellenika) and Quaestiones romanae (Gr. Aitia romaika). Cast in dialogue question-and-answer form, these works attempt to offer mythological or historical explanations for some of the arcana of Greek and Roman cultic observance, incidentally providing interpretations of religious iconography and much specific information on the layout of shrines and temples which would otherwise be lost.

Dominic Montserrat

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Pontormo, Jacopo da

[Carucci, Jacopo]

(b Pontormo, nr Empoli, 26 May 1494; d Florence, 31 Dec 1556). Italian painter and draughtsman. He was the leading painter in mid-16th-century Florence and one of the most original and extraordinary of Mannerist artists. His eccentric personality, solitary and slow working habits and capricious attitude towards his patrons are described by Vasari; his own diary, which covers the years 1554–6, further reveals a character with neurotic and secretive aspects. Pontormo enjoyed the protection of the Medici family throughout his career but, unlike Agnolo Bronzino and Giorgio Vasari, did not become court painter. His subjective portrait style did not lend itself to the state portrait. He produced few mythological works and after 1540 devoted himself almost exclusively to religious subjects. His drawings, mainly figure studies in red and black chalk, are among the highest expressions of the great Florentine tradition of draughtsmanship; close to 400 survive, forming arguably the most important body of drawings by a Mannerist painter. His highly personal style was much influenced by Michelangelo, though he also drew on northern art, primarily the prints of Albrecht Dürer.

Janet Cox-Rearick

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Raffaellino del Garbo

[Raffaelle de’ Capponi; Raffaelle de’ Carli; Raffaelle de Florentia]

(b Florence, ?1466; d Florence, 1524). Italian painter and draughtsman. According to Vasari, he began as the most gifted assistant of Filippino Lippi and the most promising painter of the new generation but never fulfilled expectations, deteriorating into mediocrity and worse.

Paula Nuttall

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Rollins, Tim and K. O. S.

Rollins, Tim and K[ids]. O[f]. S[urvival].

American group of painters and draughtsmen. After studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York (1975–7) and at New York University (1977 and 1979), in 1980 Rollins (b Pittsfield, ME, 1955) co-founded Group Material, a collaboration of artists mounting exhibitions with social themes. The collaboration that followed in the early 1980s with K.O.S. emerged out of teaching he did at after-school workshops in a public school in the South Bronx district of New York. Drawing together teenagers with artistic ability, but with various problems (records of truancy, behavioural problems or learning disabilities) Rollins set up the project at a local community centre. . . . Influenced by the theories of Brazilian educationalist Paulo Freire, Rollins led the students to develop work out of critical engagement with texts, often classics of western literature. The work of drawing and painting the images that evolved from those discussions was apportioned to different members of the group; the first task was to cover the canvas with pages from the source text, laid out in grid formation. They tackled such literature as Franz Kafka’s Amerika, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, George Orwell’s Animal Farm and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Obliterating much of the text with suggestive and enigmatic motifs, often in gold paint, and rejecting the usual conventions of illustration, they produced poetic and visually sumptuous objects in response to their sources.

Morgan Falconer

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Rome: Pantheon

Circular domed temple erected on the Campus Martius between c. AD 118 and 125 (see fig.). Preserved almost intact, it is a unique achievement in Roman architecture and one of the most celebrated buildings in all architectural history. It was converted into the church of S Maria ad Martyres in AD 609. Study of brick stamps and limited excavations in 1891–2 show that the whole structure was built by Hadrian. The inscription on the porch entablature stating that it was built by M. Agrippa refers to an earlier Pantheon under the present one, a dynastic monument to honour Augustus and the Julio-Claudian family. Despite the importance of the building, the only ancient reference to it is by Dio Cassius (early 3rd century AD), who mistook it for the earlier building of Agrippa and referred to the building as a temple dedicated to many gods (History of Rome, LIII.xxvii.2).

Fikret K. Yegül

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Italian family of artists. The brothers (1) Bernardo Rossellino and (2) Antonio Rossellino were responsible for some of the most important sculptural projects in Florence between 1440 and 1470. Although both artists are now referred to as Rossellino (‘little redhead’), this nickname was applied specifically to Antonio; the family name used by both brothers in documents is Gamberelli. By 1399 their father, Matteo Gamberelli, was living in Settignano, where his five sons were born. Matteo and his brothers were masons, and all his sons were trained as such.

Shelley E. Zuraw

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Rossellino, Antonio

(b Settignano, 1427–8; d Florence, 1479).

Sculptor, brother of Bernardo Rossellino. He belonged to the same generation as Desiderio da Settignano and Mino da Fiesole; his development more closely parallels theirs than it does that of his brother, and his style is softer and more fluid. Yet it should be assumed that Antonio received his formal training from his brother, and there are clearly similarities in their work, especially from the 1450s.

Shelley E. Zuraw

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Rossellino, Bernardo

(b Settignano, ?1407–10; d Florence, 1464).

Sculptor and architect. He was among the most distinguished Florentine marble sculptors in the second half of the 15th century. Extremely proficient technically, he was able to draw on a variety of sources, contemporary and antique, to create refined and sophisticated images. His architectural style is severely classical, and he was skilled in designing complex monuments, in which sculptured figures and architecture are harmoniously integrated.

Shelley E. Zuraw

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Rossi, Properzia de’

(b Bologna, c. 1490; d Bologna, 1530). Italian sculptor. She is referred to in a document dated 1516 as the daughter of Girolamo de’ Rossi of Bologna. Among the few recorded women artists in the 16th century, she was unusual in working as a sculptor. According to Vasari, she began by carving peach stones: a peach stone he described as engraved with the entire Passion has been identified as that forming part of a necklace (Pesaro, Pal. Bonamini–Pepoli).

Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe

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Rosso Fiorentino

[Giovanni Battista di Jacopo Rosso]

(b Florence, 8 March 1494; d ?Fontainebleau, 14 Nov 1540).

Italian painter and draughtsman, active also in France. He was a major Florentine Mannerist, whose art is both elegant and emotionally intense. He was influential in Rome, and in Paris and Fontainebleau became one of a group of Italian artists who were instrumental in pioneering a northern, more secular Mannerism.

Michael Davenport

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Sansovino, Andrea

[Andrea dal Monte Sansovino]

(b Monte Sansovino, c. 1467; d Monte Sansovino, 1529). Italian sculptor. A contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, he formulated the rubric of High Renaissance form for sculpture as Leonardo did for painting. His style and technique as well as his association with the della Robbia workshop place him firmly in the mainstream of late 15th-century Florentine art. According to Vasari, he was an important architect and a sculptor in bronze as well as marble, but the bronzes and architectural projects mentioned are untraced. A number of drawings (e.g. London, V&A), principally for altars and wall-tomb projects, are attributed to Sansovino, but none can be related to particular extant works.

Virginia Anne Bonito

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Sarto, Andrea del

[Agnolo, Andrea d’]

(b Florence, 16 July 1486; d Florence, 29 Sept 1530). Italian painter and draughtsman. He was the leading painter in Florence in the early years of the 16th century, and, under the influence of Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Bartolommeo, Michelangelo and Raphael, he elaborated and perfected the classical style of the High Renaissance. In the second decade of the 16th century his art anticipated aspects of Mannerism, while his direct, immediate works of the 1520s became important models for the more naturalistic Tuscan artists of the Counter-Reformation. He painted mainly religious works, including both altarpieces and major cycles of frescoes. His portraits, distinguished by a dreamily poetic quality, are among the most individual of the High Renaissance.

Serena Padovani

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Savoldo, Giovanni Girolamo

[Giovan Gerolamo]

(fl 1506–48). Italian painter. Although called ‘da Brescia’ by himself and others, he is not known to have lived in Brescia, and the term may indicate his family origin or he may just have left the city in his youth. From at least 1521, until his death, he lived in Venice and is thus regarded stylistically as a painter of Venice, rather than of Brescia. More than any of his contemporaries, he specialized in pictures of single figures, both sacred and secular. Their imposing volume, which sometimes almost fills the frame, harks back to the 15th century, but they are made modern and animated by the use of vivid colours (often in masses of a single hue) and the importance given the environment by subtle lighting. He also painted wide-format portraits, which would have appeared similarly modern to his contemporaries. After his death, he sank into total obscurity and has been reinstated as one of the masters of the High Renaissance only in the 20th century.

Creighton E. Gilbert

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Sebastiano del Piombo

[Luciani, Sebastiano; Venetus, Sebastianus; Veneziano, Sebastiano; Viniziano,Sebastiano]

(b ?Venice, 1485–6; d Rome, 21 June 1547).

Italian painter. He was one of the most important artists in Italy in the first half of the 16th century, active in Venice and Rome (see fig.). His early, Venetian, paintings are reminiscent of Giovanni Bellini and to a lesser extent of Giorgione. With his move to Rome in 1511 he came under the influence of Raphael and then of Michelangelo, who supplied him with drawings. After the death of Raphael (1520), he was the leading painter working in Rome and was particularly noted as a portrait painter. In his finest works, such as the Pietà (1513; Viterbo, Mus. Civ.) and the Flagellation (1516–24; Rome, S Pietro in Montorio), there is a remarkable fusion of the Venetian use of colour and the grand manner of Central Italian classicism.

Mauro Lucco

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Squarcione, Francesco

(b Padua, c. 1395; d Padua, after May 1468).

Italian painter, teacher, draughtsman and printmaker. He is a controversial figure. His mediocre qualities as a painter are less contentious than his role as the head of a school for painters, possibly the earliest private establishment devoted to teaching painting and distinct from the workshop system of instruction through apprenticeships.

Thomas Tolley

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Stradanus, Joannes

[Johannes] [Straat Jan van der; Straet, Jan van (der); Strada, Giovanni della; Stradano, Giovanni; Stratensis, Giovanni]

(b Bruges, 1523; d Florence, 3 Nov 1605). Flemish painter and draughtsman, active in Italy. The traces of his Flemish artistic heritage were much appreciated in the refined Mannerist circle, led by Vasari, in which he was active in Florence. He was especially skilled as a designer of tapestry cycles.

K. M. Rutgers

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A built-up surround for an image that provides an architectural dimension like a niche; also the ornamental receptacle used to contain the Host during mass.

Uccello, Paolo

[Paolo di Dono]

(b Florence, c. 1397; d Florence, 10 Dec 1475). Italian painter, draughtsman, mosaicist and designer of stained glass. His work vividly illustrates the principal issues of Florentine art during the first half of the 15th century. Trained within the tradition of the Late Gothic style, he eventually became a leading exponent of the application of linear perspective based on the mathematical system established by Filippo Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti. It is the merging of these two diametrically opposed tendencies that forms the basis of Uccello’s style. As well as painting on panel and in fresco (many of his works in this medium have been severely damaged), he was also a master mosaicist and produced designs for stained glass.

Christopher Lloyd

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Varchi, Benedetto

(b Florence, March 1503; d Florence, Dec 1565). Italian humanist and theorist. After travels in the 1530s during which he studied Aristotle and frequented the circle of Pietro Bembo he settled permanently in Florence in 1543. A chronicler and writer, he became one of the most active members of the Accademia Fiorentina, writing many commentaries on the works of Dante and Petrarch. He was in close contact with artists: he exchanged numerous sonnets with Agnolo Bronzino and Bartolomeo Ammanati and, according to Vasari, advised Niccolò Tribolo on iconographic matters. He also helped Benvenuto Cellini revise the manuscript of his Vita. Varchi’s writings on art comprise a short discourse of unknown date entitled Della beltà e grazia (‘Of beauty and grace’); two lectures delivered in 1547 in S Maria Novella, Florence, and published in 1549 as Due lezzioni; an unpublished treatise on proportion; and the funeral oration for Michelangelo (Florence, 1564).

François Quiviger

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Vasari, Giorgio

(b Arezzo, 30 July 1511; d Florence, 27 June 1574). Painter, draughtsman, architect, writer and collector. From a family of potters (vasaio, hence Vasari), Giorgio was the son of Antonio Vasari (d 1527) and Maddelena Tacci (d 1558). . . . Giorgio’s predilection for learned, allegorical subjects in his paintings and his ability to express himself in writing were unusual for a painter of his time. . . . Vasari’s Vite (Le vite de più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori  . . .) was published, amid widespread interest, in 1550, by the Florentine printer Lorenzo Torrentino (d 1563). The work, two volumes with more than a thousand pages, was dedicated to Cosimo I de’ Medici. It contains a general preface (proemio), an introduction to architecture, sculpture and painting, and three parts consisting of artists’ biographies, each with its own proemio. . . . Vasari’s fame rests principally on this book, of which the second, enlarged edition, published in 1568, was the basis of all subsequent editions and translations. For this work Vasari is considered the father of art history. The Vite is more than just a chronological sequence of biographies (as had already existed), it is the first critical history of artistic style.

Julian Kliemann

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Verrocchio, Andrea del

[Andrea di Michele di Francesco Cioni]

(b Florence, 1435; d Venice, ?30 June 1488).

Italian sculptor, painter, draughtsman and goldsmith. He was the leading sculptor in Florence in the second half of the 15th century, and his highly successful workshop, in which Leonardo da Vinci trained, had a far-reaching impact on younger generations. A wide range of patrons, including the Medici family, the Venetian State and the city council of Pistoia, commissioned works from him. Exceptionally versatile, Verrocchio was talented both as a sculptor—of monumental bronzes, silver figurines and marble reliefs—and as a painter of altarpieces. He was inspired by the contemporary interest in the Antique and in the study of nature, yet, approaching almost every project as a new challenge, developed new conceptions that often defied both traditional aesthetics and conventional techniques.

Yael Even

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