THE change which Giotto had wrought in art had been so great, the advance on all who had gone before him was so marvellous, that well-nigh two centuries were needed to work out the problems which he had solved as it were by instinct. In his hands Italian art became a genuine expression of national character, and so fully did he give utterance to the thoughts of his age, that for many years his followers had only to repeat his types or apply his principles to other subjects in order to find general acceptance. The result of Giotto’s predominance in Trecento art is, that the personalities of different artists are all of them more or less absorbed in this one master, and that it becomes difficult to single out the characteristics of his individual followers. Instead of going straight to nature, as Giotto had done, they were content to copy his figures and imitate his compositions, until they too sank into monotony and formality, and art seemed once more in danger of becoming purely conventional. Yet these Giottesque painters interest us by their earnestness and sincerity, their simple and naïve feeling. They are, as a rule, excellent illustrators, who can tell a story gracefully and add pleasing details to the picture, if they lack the convincing power and dramatic sense of their great master, and never succeed in producing the same vivid and life-like effect.
Political conditions may have had their share in the general stagnation from which art and letters both suffered in the fourteenth century. The great schemes of Pope Innocent III. for the Church’s re-generation, the dream of brotherhood and religious equality which St. Francis had held up to his country-men, had ended in failure and disappointment. Civil troubles in Rome led to the exile of the popes to Avignon, and the Babylonian Captivity, as this period of banishment was termed, did not come to an end until 1377. Florence was torn in twain by the perpetual warfare of contending factions, the wars with Pisa and the revolt of the Ciompi. In 1345, great misery was entailed on countless families by the colossal failure of the Peruzzi and Bardi houses, which was partly caused by our king Edward the Third’s repudiation of a debt of more than a million of florins, advanced by these merchants for the expenses of his French wars. This calamity was followed by the famine of i 347 and the terrible plague of 1348, which carried off as many as 600 victims a day, and was reckoned to have destroyed three-fourths of the whole population. In these circumstances it is wonderful that painting should have been as actively practised as it was in Florence during this period instead of dying out altogether.
As before, the chief patrons of art were the Mendicant Orders, and the centres of painting were the Franciscan church of Santa Croce and the Dominican foundation of Santa Maria Novella. The decoration of Santa Croce, begun by Giotto, was carried on by his favourite scholar and godson, Taddeo Gaddi, the son of Gaddo Gaddi, a distinguished mosaic-worker who was employed in the Baptistery and Church of San Miniato, and lived on friendly terms with his great contemporary. Born about 1300, Taddeo spent twenty-four years in Giotto’s shop, and assisted his master in most of his later works. A careful and industrious artist, Taddeo followed Giotto’s methods very closely, imitating his types and exaggerating his peculiarities. His best works, the frescoes of the Virgin’s Life, in the Baroncelli Chapel of Santa Croce, were begun during Giotto’s absence at Naples, and finished by 1338. Most of the subjects are taken from the Arena Chapel, and frequently we find that whole figures are borrowed from Giotto’s compositions. The narrow eyes, long noses and faces are so much exaggerated as to become positively ugly ; the drapery hangs in smaller and deeper folds ; there is more variety in the costumes, and greater elaboration in the architecture and other accessories. But the want of structural form is painfully apparent in the figures, and the faces lack character and expression. In the Presentation of the Virgin, for instance, Taddeo places the high priest in a tall, many-arched loggia, elaborately decorated with reliefs and windows, but sadly out of perspective, and introduces a number of spectators, amongst others a group of children, evidently copied from the boys who threw stones in the Allegory of Poverty at Assisi. The little Virgin is represented standing by herself on the steps of the Temple and turning round with out-stretched arm, as if in the act of solemnly declaring her intentions to her parents. The unity of the picture is thus destroyed, and the simple and impressive effect of Giotto’s composition is entirely lost. The Marriage and Return of the Virgin to her home are combined in one and the same picture, but in spite of the picturesque head-dresses introduced and the variety of foliage in the trees of the background, the composition is crowded and ineffective, and far inferior to Giotto’s rendering. In the more homely scenes, however, Taddeo succeeds better, and the birth of the Virgin is perhaps the most natural and graceful subject of the whole series. The large Coronation of the Virgin attended by angels playing musical instruments, which originally hung in the Baroncelli Chapel and was long ascribed to Giotto, is also, there can be little doubt, Taddeo’s work. To him, again, we may ascribe the panels of the presses which held the altar-plate in the sacristy of Santa Croce, decorated with scenes from the life of St. Francis, chiefly imitated from Giotto’s frescoes in the Upper Church at Assisi. Another large altar-piece of the Madonna and Child, attended by angels swinging censers and offering flowers, is in the gallery at Siena, and bears Taddeo’s signature as well as the date 1355. After Giotto’s death Taddeo became the foremost painter in Florence, and decorated numerous churches and cloisters with frescoes, which have all perished.
A modest and simple man, he retained the deepest veneration for his master’s memory to the end, and is said to have signed some of his works with the inscription, Taddeo, a disciple of Giotto, the good master.” No one lamented the decline of art after Giotto’s death more deeply than this loyal scholar, and in his old age he is reported to have said to Andrea Orcagna : “Art left the world with Giotto, and is sinking every day to a lower level.” On the 29th of August 1366, Taddeo was summoned, together with the chief painters and goldsmiths of the city, to hold a consultation on the Duomo works, and seems to have died before the end of the year. On his death-bed he commended his sons Agnolo and Giovanni to Jacopo da Casentino for their moral training, and to Giovanni da Milano for their artistic education. In this he showed his perception. Jacopo was a native of the district of Casentino, who joined Taddeo when he was painting in the convent-church of La Vernia, and became one of his most devoted followers. He was an inferior artist, as we may learn from those of his frescoes which are still to be seen at Arezzo, but a man of considerable ability, who restored the ancient Roman aqueduct in that town, and supplied its inhabitants with water. But his chief title to fame lies in the fact that, in 1349, he founded the Guild of Florentine painters which bore the name of the Company of St. Luke.
Giovanni da Milano was a far better artist. Born at Caversaio, a village near Como, he early became one of Taddeo’s assistants, and worked with him at Arezzo. In 1363, he matriculated in the Painters’ Guild, and three years later was admitted to the privileges of a citizen of Florence. At that time he was living with his family in the parish of S. Pietro Maggiore, and had lately finished the Pieta, now in the Accademia, signed with his name. ” I, John of Milan, painted this picture in 1365.” Early in the same year he accepted an order from the Prior of Santa Croce to decorate the Rinuccini Chapel with frescoes of the life of the Virgin and S. Mary Magdalene. In these eight subjects the traditional art of the Gaddi is enriched by the presence of fresh elements. A new type of features is introduced, the proportions of head and face are more correct, there is a certain sweetness and grace, which seems to have been the natural inheritance of Lombard artists, and a plentiful infusion of homely incidents partaking of the nature of genre. The busy movements and elaborately trimmed gowns of the maids who wash and dress the infant Virgin are as prominent as the dinner which the Apostles are in the act of eating at the Pharisee’s table, or the cook and kitchen-fire which engross Martha’s attention. Giovanni da Milano may possibly have been the painter of the scenes from the Virgin’s life in the cloisters of S. Maria Novella, which Mr Ruskin has eloquently described in his ” Mornings in Florence,” and which are, no doubt, works by a Giottesque artist, but hardly, as he supposes, by the hand of Giotto himself. This Lombard master after-wards went to Rome, where he was employed in the Lateran from 1367 to 137o, and, according to Vasari, visited Assisi, and painted an important altar-piece in the Upper Church on his journey back to Milan.
Another follower of Giotto, who was also said to have worked in the Lateran, and who certainly painted in Santa Croce during Taddeo Gaddi’s lifetime, was a certain Tommaso di Banco, whom Vasari calls by his surname of Giottino, which he acquired, we are told, because in him the spirit and personality of Giotto seemed to live again. It seems doubtful whether the biographer has not confused two different painters in his account, but the man whom he calls Giottino, and whom Ghiberti more correctly describes as Maso di Banco, was a very interesting and attractive artist, who produced several striking works. Giottino, to call him by the commonly-accepted name, was born in 1324, matriculated in the Painters’ Guild in 1343, and was admitted to the Company of St. Luke in 1350. After this we hear no more of him, and Vasari tells us that he died of consumption at the early age of thirty, worn out by ceaseless labour and devotion to his art. During his short life Giottino attained a high degree of fame, which in his eyes was of more value than any riches, to which he seems to have been singularly indifferent. Villani speaks of him as a charming man, nomo gentilissimo, and Ghiberti describes him as an illustrious artist; pittore nobilissimo. Both agree with Vasari that he was the author of the frescoes in the Chapel of S. Silvestro in Santa Croce. These paintings, which represent the miracles wrought by Bishop Sylvester, as told in the Golden Legend, are remarkable not only for the natural action and expression of the figures introduced, but for the skill and charm of the composition. The Giottesque practice of combining separate incidents in a single picture has been seldom adopted with such excellent effect as in the last fresco, where the Saint is represented closing the jaws of a dragon, and bringing back two dead Magi to life, in the presence of the Emperor Constantine and his court. The perspective and chiaroscuro are little inferior to Giotto’s own, and the hilly landscape with its classical buildings and long line of ruined arches form a picturesque background to the whole composition. The gentle melancholy and seriousness of the young master’s nature, to which Vasari alludes, is more apparent in the beautiful Pietà which he painted for the church of S. Romeo, now in the corridor of the Uffizi. The general lines of the composition recall Giotto’s Pietàs at Padua and Assisi, but the grief of the mourners is less passionate and more restrained. The holy Mother gazes tenderly at her Son’s face, arid St. John, standing behind with clasped hands, looks down upon them with deep distress and affection, while two Florentine ladies, the donors of the picture, kneel with folded arms at the foot of the cross, and St. Benedict and St. Zenobius, robed in full pontificals, lay their hands upon them in blessing. Cavalcaselle ascribes two paintings of the Nativity and Crucifixion in the crypt of the Strozzi Chapel in Santa Maria Novella to this artist, as well as the fragments of an allegorical fresco, with a view of the Palazzo Vecchio, representing the Expulsion of Walter of Brienne, Duke of Athens, from Florence, which Giottino painted in the Palace of the Podestà, according to Vasari and Villani, when he was only twenty, and which were still to be seen a few years ago, in the Via del Diluvio. On his return from Rome, Giottino visited Assisi, but no trace of his work now remains in the great Franciscan basilica. The charming frescoes on the life of St. Nicholas in the Chapel of the Sacrament, in the Lower Church, formerly ascribed to this master, belong to an earlier period, between 1300 and 1310, and were probably, as Mr. Berenson suggests, painted by the unknown assistant who completed Giotto’s series in the Upper Church. Giottino’s work at Assisi was interrupted by illness, brought on, we are told, by neglect of his health and excessive devotion to his art, and he came back to Florence, where he died soon afterwards, to the grief of his contemporaries, who felt that in him they had lost a truly great master. He was buried by his parents outside the walls of Santa Maria Novella, and Latin epitaphs lamenting his short life and rare promise were written in his honour.
A third artist who painted in Santa Croce during the latter half of the thirteenth century, was Agnolo Gaddi, the son of Taddeo. His first work of importance, the frescoes on the legend of the True Cross, which he painted for the Alberti family in the choir of Santa Croce, show a close following of the Giottesque tradition, modified by Sienese influences, and the example of Giovanni da Milano. The type of face with the long nose and heavy chin is still the same as in Taddeo’s works, but there is more charm of feature and colouring, and some of the heads, such as St. Helena, with her braided hair and quaint coif, are distinctly attractive. The story of the Finding of the True Cross by the Empress, and of the miracles worked by the sacred relic, as recorded in the Golden Legend, is told with a variety of picturesque incident ; and the third fresco, in which the vision appears to Heraclius in his sleep, and he is seen on horseback charging the hosts of Chosroes, evidently supplied Piero dei Franceschi with the idea of his famous series at Arezzo. The portrait of the artist, with a short beard and red hood, may still be distinguished among the crowd assembled to witness the Emperor’s entry into Jerusalem. Another series of frescoes which Agnolo painted later in life, in the Chapel of the Holy Girdle at Prato, show, a marked improvement in composition and vivacity. These represent the early history of the Virgin, and tell the legend of the Girdle which dropped at her Assumption, and was caught by the doubting Thomas. In the eleventh century it was discovered in Palestine by Michele Dagomari, a citizen of Prato, who wedded the daughter of its owner, and brought back the precious relic with his bride to his Tuscan home. Unfortunately the later scenes, which represent the marriage of Michele, his return to Prato, and the procession bearing the Holy Girdle to the Duomo, are irreparably ruined. These works must have been the last which Agnolo ever executed. The Chapel was consecrated, and the Girdle solemnly deposited within its walls in 1395. A year later, on the 16th of October 1396, the painter himself died and was buried in Santa Croce. His sons gave up painting for trade, and opened a house in Venice, where they became wealthy merchants. One of his scholars was Cennino Cennini, whose name is well known, not because of his pictures, which have perished, but for the sake of the ” Treatise on Painting,” which he wrote in the early years of the fifteenth century. Cennino was born at Colle di Val d’Elsa, near Florence, about 1370, and was apprenticed to Agnolo Gaddi during twelve years After his master’s death he went to Padua, where he entered the service of Francesco di Carrara, married a lady of good position, and spent the rest of his life. Here he ” made and composed the Book of the Art, in the reverence of God and of the Virgin Mary, of St. Eustachius (his own patron), of St. Francis and St. John the Baptist and St. Anthony of Padua, in the reverence of Giotto, Taddeo and Agnolo, and for the utility and good and advantage of those who would attain perfection in the art.” It was formerly supposed that Cennino died in the debtors’ prison called the Stinchi in Florence, because the MS. of his book in the Laurentian Library ends with the words : ” On the 31St of July 1437, in the Stinchi prison ; ” but this was probably added by the copyist who beguiled his prison hours by transcribing the treatise, and since this inscription is not found in the Riccardiani MS., there is no reason to conclude that Cennino’s prosperous career had so dismal an end.
As a practical treatise on Trecento painting, dealing minutely with fresco and tempera alike, and describing the technique of Giotto and his immediate followers, Cennino’s book is of the utmost value, while at the same time it gives us some insight into the habits and customs of Florentine painters at this period. He insists on the necessity of constantly referring to Nature, and advises every student to draw something from Nature every day. But he lays down certain rules to be observed in the proportion of the human figure and face, which is to be divided into three parts the forehead, the nose, and the chin with the mouth. And he gives minute prescriptions for the composition of the landscape and arrangement of trees and rocks, as well as the rudiments of perspective to be observed in drawing buildings. Fresco-painting he calls delightful and charming work, but on the whole he himself prefers tempera, which is, after all, ” the proper employment of a gentleman, who, with velvet on his back, may spend what he pleases.” The student is advised always to choose the best and most famous master, and remain with him, remembering that Taddeo was the great Giotto’s disciple during twenty-four years, and that this is a far better way of attaining to excellence than to be constantly wandering from one teacher to another. Another piece of solid advice which Cennino gives the beginner, is the importance of using fine gold and the best colours, especially in painting figures of Our Lady. ” If you say that you are poor and cannot afford the expense, remember that the fame you will gain by good work will bring you two ducats where others will only receive one, according to the old proverb: `Good work, good pay ;’ and whenever you are not well paid, God and Our Lady will reward you, both in soul and body.’ The writer is never tired of dwelling on the high seriousness of Art, on the solitude, abstinence, and absolute devotion which this calling demands. The young painter must regulate his way of living as carefully as the student of theology or philosophy ; he must take little wine, eat and drink temperately, and avoid the company of women, which is apt to render the hand unsteady. Above all, he must bear in mind the distinctly religious side of his work, and begin by invoking the most Holy Trinity and glorious Virgin Mary before he prepares the foundation of his picture. Cennino’s frequent allusions to Giotto, and the profound reverence with which he always mentions him show how fondly the great master’s memory was cherished by the third generation of artists which had arisen since his death.
The second great storehouse of Trecento art in Florence is Santa Maria Novella, the Dominican Church, built in the last years of the thirteenth century by a succession of friar architects. Both Cimabue and Giotto had adorned this church with their works, and frescoes by Giottesque artists may still be seen in the crypt and cloisters, while one of the best preserved and most complete schemes of decoration executed by Trecento artists is to be found in the ancient Chapter-house. This building is now known as the Spanish Chapel, a name which it acquired in 1556, when Duke Cosimo I. granted the use of the hall to the suite of his wife Eleanor of Toledo. The Chapter-house was founded in 1350 by Buonamico Guidalotti, a wealthy Florentine, in honour of the newly instituted Festival of Corpus Christi, and was not yet finished when he made his will five years later. The architect was a Dominican brother, Fra Jacopo Talenti, but the names of the artists who painted the interior remain unknown. Vasari ascribes the frescoes partly to Taddeo Gaddi, who may have designed some of the subjects, but has left no trace of his hand on the walls, and partly to Simone Martini, who could have had no share in the work, since he left Italy in 1339, and died at Avignon in 1344. Both Milanesi and Cavalcaselle ascribe the frescoes formerly assigned to Simone, to Andrea da Firenze, the painter of the Legend of S. Ranieri in the Campo Santo, while the last-named writer considers the subjects on the roof to be the work of Antonio Veneziano, the master who completed the series of Andrea’s frescoes at Pisa. The general scheme was evidently carefully drawn up by the Prior of the convent, and probably several different artists were employed to carry out his ideas. None of these were masters of the first rank, but the whole effect is fine and imposing, and affords a curious and characteristic illustration of contemporary theology. The Ship of the Church, a repetition of Giotto’s Navicella, the Resurrection, Ascension, and Descent of the Holy Ghost, are represented on the four compartments of the ceiling, and a crowded composition of the Crucifixion covers the wall above the altar. But the glorification of the Dominican Order was the real object in view, and the chief interest centres in the two large allegorical frescoes on the East and West ‘walls, in which the mission of the Dominicans in teaching and saving souls is set forth. On the East wall, to the right of the entrance, Pope Benedict XI. and the Emperor Henry VII. are enthroned, as representatives of the spiritual and temporal power, attended by cardinals and courtiers, while the flock of the faithful slumber peacefully at their feet, watched over by black and white dogs Domini canes, or hounds of the Lord. Behind, a model of Arnolfo’s Duomo and Giotto’s Campanile appears, and Dominican friars are seen preaching to heretics, who tear up their false books, while black and white dogs drive away the wolves that devour Christ’s flock. On the wall above, symbolising the pleasures of the world, are a group of knights and fair ladies with falcons and lap-dogs, seated under a grove of pomegranate trees ; and one richly-dressed lady in green, called by Vasari Petrarch’s Laura, represents Earthly Love. Further to the right a Dominican friar gives absolution to a penitent soul and points out the way to Paradise, where angels welcome the elect, and St. Peter stands ready to unlock the golden gates ; and beyond, we catch a glimpse of saints in glory and happy spirits dancing hand in hand. On the opposite wall St. Thomas Aquinas is enthroned between Prophets and Evangelists, under a Gothic canopy, with the Book of Wisdom open in his hands, and the heretics Arius, Sabellius and Averroes crouching vanquished at his feet. Beneath, we have a row of fourteen Virtues and Sciences, seated in richly carved Gothic stalls, with illustrious teachers at their feet. Cicero, conspicuous by his fine intellectual face, sits at the feet of Rhetoric ; Justinian, wearing a blue robe and white and gold crown, appears under the figure of Civil Law ; Pythagoras represents Arithmetic ; Pope Clement V., Canon Law ; Boethius, Theology, and Aristotle, the science of Dialectics. The refined and thoughtful philosopher, wearing a gold crown on his head, and seated at the feet of Astronomy, is said to represent Atlas, the first king of Fiesole, while Tubal Cain, a shaggy, long-haired patriarch, lifts his hammer to strike the anvil, under the green-robed form of Music. These allegorical figures lack the convincing power and reality of Giotto’s Vices and Virtues, but many of the heads have a certain grandeur, and the way in which the whole system of medieval education is illustrated does credit to the invention of the Dominican Prior.
It is also within the walls of Santa Maria Novella that we find the only paintings now remaining by the hand of a far better master than any of those who were employed in the Spanish Chapel, Andrea Orcagna. This artist, the best of all the Giotteschi painters, and, next to Giotto himself, the greatest Florentine master of the century, was the son of a goldsmith named Cione. The surname of Orcagna, by which he became generally known, seems to have been an abbreviation of Arcagnolo, which he. acquired from his home in the parish of St. Michael the Archangel. Born about the year 1308, Andrea belonged to a family of artists, and was, like Giotto himself, architect, sculptor and painter. Like Giotto, he was a man of genial temper and pleasant manner, who made himself beloved by all. And like Giotto, too, he wrote poetry, and a book of his sonnets is preserved in the Magliabecchian Library, while a later poet, Burchiello, mentions Orcagna among the poets who in past days have written of love. After learning the elements of painting from his elder brother Nardo, Orcagna studied sculpture under Andrea Pisano. But he matriculated in the Painters’ Guild in 1343, and was only admitted to the art of wood and stone carvers nine years later. By this time he was already recognised as the best Florentine painter who had arisen since the death of Giotto, and as such was employed on extensive works in Santa Maria Novella. The frescoes of the life of the Virgin, with which he decorated the choir, were, unfortunately, ruined by a violent storm in 1358, and finally painted over by Ghirlandajo, who, according to Vasari, repeated Orcagna’s composition in many instances. After finishing the choir, Andrea was employed to execute three large frescoes in the Strozzi Chapel. Of these, the Inferno, an exact representation of the Malebolge of Dante, whose poem Andrea studied attentively, has been entirely repainted, while the Paradise and Last Judgment have been much damaged by damp and restoration. Enough remains, however, to give us a high idea of Orcagna’s powers. The forms are better drawn, there is a distinct advance in structural accuracy in foreshortening and modelling, together with more beauty of feature than is found in the work of other Giotteschi masters. The best qualities of contemporary Sienese and Florentine art are here combined, while there is a grandeur and solemnity about the whole that recalls Giotto’s conceptions. The two angels playing the lyre and violin at the feet of Christ and his Mother, in the Paradise, are strong and graceful beings, and the white-robed Virgin kneeling before the Judge, interceding for sinful mortals, is one of the finest figures in Trecento art. The large altar-piece in the same chapel was also painted for the Strozzi family by Andrea, after he had completed the frescoes, between the years 1354 and 1357. A figure of Christ enthroned and worshipped by angels occupies the central compartment. On the right, the Virgin presents St. Thomas Aquinas, to whom he gives the book of the Gospels ; and on the left, the Baptist introduces St. Peter, who receives the keys from his Lord’s hands. St. Katharine and St. Michael stand behind the Virgin, and a noble figure of St. Paul, with a long beard and intellectual head, accompanied by St. Laurence, fills up the opposite corner of the picture, to which is attached a predella representing incidents in the lives of these saints. Both in this altar-piece and in his mural paintings we are conscious of a certain austerity and symmetry of design, and realise that Orcagna was greater as a sculptor than as a painter. His chief achievement in this direction was the famous tabernacle which he designed and executed between 1349 and 1359, for the church of Or’ San Michele, to contain a wonder-working picture of the Madonna which had become the object of popular devotion during the great plague of 1348. This white marble shrine, with its spiral columns and pinnacles rising almost to the roof of the church, delicately carved and studded with jewels and enamels, is in itself a marvel of the sculptor and gold-smith’s art ; while Andrea’s vigorous and dramatic bas-reliefs of the Death and Assumption of the Virgin form a connecting link between the sculptures of Giotto’s Campanile and the bronze gates of the Baptistery. From 1355 to 1359 Andrea held the post of Capomaestro to this church of Or’ San Michele, which had arisen on the site of the ancient Corn Market, and was under the protection of the seven chief Florentine Guilds. In 1356 he received an order from the Signory to build the Loggia de’ Priori, which bears his name, on the public square, but never executed the work, which was only begun seventy years later. In the same year his design for the chief doorway of the Duomo was accepted, and in 1358 he was summoned to Orvieto, and appointed Capomaestro of the Duomo works. He afterwards returned there at intervals, and executed the mosaic decorations of the façade in 1362, but his numerous engagements in Florence compelled him to give up the office. In 1368, a dangerous illness forced him to leave the completion of an altar-piece, ordered by the Guild of Money-changers for Or’ San Michele, to his brother Jacopo, and before the end of the year he died, leaving a son who became a painter, and two young daughters named Tessa and Romola.
The name of Andrea Orcagna was long connected with another celebrated sanctuary decorated by Giottesque artists the Campo Santo of Pisa ; but Vasari’s assertion that he painted the Triumph of Death is absolutely without foundation, and these famous frescoes are now generally recognised to be the work of an unknown Sienese master. Florentine influences, however, are mingled with these traditions. Both Dante and Boccaccio’s thought, it is plain, inspired the author of this great Vision of Life and Death, while the Angels of Judgment and Mercy recall Orcagna’s forms. In spite of their separate origin and distinctive features, the art of Florence and Siena acted mutually on each other in many respects during the fourteenth century, and Sienese influences became increasingly apparent in the works of the later Giotteschi. Among these were several painters who assisted in the decoration of the Campo Santo. Native art in Pisa never rose above mediocrity, and after the death of the Lorenzetti brothers in the plague of 1348, and the consequent decline of Sienese art, the Directors of the Cathedral works sought the help of Florentine artists to adorn the stately cloisters erected by Giovanni Pisano. In 1371, they engaged Francesco da Volterra, a Giottesque master who had settled at Pisa about 1346, and was elected a member of the Great Council in 1358, to paint the history of Job on the south wall of the Campo Santo. These six subjects, which were long ascribed to Giotto, are the most damaged of the whole series, but the remaining fragments show considerable inventive faculty and power of expression. Especially striking is the vision of the Court of Heaven, with Christ encircled by a rosy cloud that floats over a landscape of rocks and sea, and Satan, as a horned fiend with bat’s wings, pleading his cause. The contrast between the condition of Job in his prosperity, feasting among his friends, and surrounded by flocks and servants, and the bereft and lonely state to which he is reduced in the day of affliction, is finely brought out; and the towers and domes of a media val city rise picturesquely in the background of the double subject.
The next Giottesque master who worked in the Campo Santo was Andrea da Firenze, the painter, according to Cavalcaselle, of the Spanish Chapel. On the 13th October 1377, this artist received 529 lire and io soldi as a final instalment of the sum due to him for three frescoes of the story of the Pisan Saint, Ranieri, which he painted on the upper part of the South wall. Andrea was evidently an artist of some repute, but these scenes in which the conversion of the Saint and his pilgrimage to the Holy Land are set forth, display the same conventional types and feeble and ineffective composition that we find in the frescoes of the Spanish Chapel, without having the interest of the subjects there represented. When the upper course of San Ranieri’s life was finished, Andrea left Pisa, to execute other works in Florence; and after waiting several years for his return, the Directors of the Campo Santo invited Antonio Veneziano to complete the series. A Venetian by birth, Antonio early became the assistant of Agnolo Gaddi, and matriculated in the Florentine Guild of Painters in 1374, after which he returned to Venice, and was employed to paint a fresco in the Hall of the Great Council. In spite of his merits, however, he failed to win the approval of his countrymen, and leaving Venice in disgust he came back to Florence, where he executed many works in the Certosa of Val d’Ema and other churches, which have now perished, and attained a well-deserved reputation. From 1384 to 1386, he lived at Pisa, in a house belonging to the Administration of the Cathedral Works, and received 210 florins for three frescoes representing the return of San Ranieri from the Holy Land, his death and the translation of his body to the Duomo, and the miracles wrought by his relics. The vigour and animation with which these subjects are illustrated, and the clearness and brightness of the few remnants of original colour that still remain, justify the high praise bestowed by Vasari on these works, which he pronounces to be the finest of all the frescoes painted by many excellent masters in the Campo Santo. The first subject is the best preserved and most successful, showing us, as it does, the galleys arriving in the harbour, with the wind swelling their sails, and the Saint’s miraculous conversion of the inn-keeper, whom he convicts of mixing water with wine, at the suggestion of a demon seated in the form of a cat on the top of the barrel. Here again the architectural details are full of picturesque charm, and in the next two subjects, the Duomo, Baptistery and leaning Tower are all introduced. Antonio Veneziano executed several other works in the Cathedral, and remained at Pisa till August 1387, after which we lose sight of him, and are left to believe Vasari’s assertion, that he became so much interested in chemical experiments, that in his old age he abandoned painting for the study of medicine. But he was a master of considerable power, and as the pupil of Agnolo Gaddi and the master of Starnina, he forms an important link in the development of Florentine art.
Yet two more Giottesque masters were employed in the Campo Santo during the last years of the fourteenth century : Pietro di Puccio, of Orvieto who painted four frescoes of the Creation, the Fall of Man, Death of Abel, and the Deluge, on the North wall, in the year 1390 and Spinello Aretino. In his attempt to represent the work of Creation, Puccio shows himself an inferior artist, as much influenced by Sienese as Giottesque tradition, and quite unable to draw nude forms correctly, but not without considerable gifts of poetic invention, which find their happiest expression in the fruit-trees and singing-birds, the marble fountains and terraces of the Garden of Eden. Spinello was a more popular and prolific artist, who painted the five frescoes of the legend of the warrior Saints, Efeso and Potito on the South wall, within the space of seven months, and received 1032 lire for his work in March 1392. Born at Arezzo about 1433, and sprung from a family of goldsmiths, he became a scholar of Jacopo da Casentino, and painted an immense number of frescoes in Florence and Arezzo during the course of his long life. His delight in battle-pieces and crowded and animated scenes finds expression both in his Campo Santo works and in the sixteen frescoes representing the wars of Barbarossa and the ultimate triumph of the Sienese Pope, Alexander III., which he painted in the Palazzo Pubblico at Siena, in 1408. Like Orcagna and most of the later Giotteschi, Spinello combines many of the characteristics of Florentine and Sienese artists, but his skill in telling a story and his bright and decorative colouring are marred by superficial and hasty execution. Some of his best compositions are to be seen in the sacristy of S. Miniato al Monte, which he adorned with legends of the life of St. Benedict, and some of his worst in the Pharmacy of the Dominicans of Santa Maria Novella, where he executed a series of scenes from the Passion in his last years. He retired to his native town of Arezzo at the end of 1408, and died there in March 1410, painting frescoes up to the last. According to Vasari, his end was hastened by a sudden fright which he received from a vision of Lucifer, who appeared to him in his sleep, and reproached him for having represented him in so hideous a form in his fresco of the fallen angels. In his work at Siena, Spinello had an able and efficient helper in his son Gaspare, better known as Parri Spinello, who has left many examples of his art in Arezzo, and who carried on Giottesque traditions into the middle of the next century.
Another painter who, although he worked in the first quarter of the fifteenth century, may be classed among Trecento artists, was Lorenzo Monaco, the Camaldolese monk belonging to the convent of S. Maria degli Angeli in Florence. A native of Siena, where he was born about 1370, this gentle brother, who was received into the Order in December 1391, brought ideal charm and sweetness to blend with the Giottesque style which he acquired from Agnolo Gaddi. Both the early Adoration of the Magi in the Uffizi, and the altar-piece of the Annunciation in S. Trinità, are curiously like Simone Martini’s work, while the frescoes of the Virgin’s life, which have been recently recovered from the whitewash which concealed them, recall Giotto’s types and composition. These last are full of solemn inspiration and genuine artistic charm, and the good monk’s poetic invention finds expression in the broken and varied scenery, the islands and castellated rocks and sea-shore of the landscape backgrounds. But Lorenzo’s masterpiece is the large Coronation in the Uffizi, which he painted in 1413, for the high altar of his own convent church, and which was removed, 200 years later, to the daughter convent of Cerreto, half-way between Florence and Siena. Here the tender devotion of the saints’ heads and the angels swinging censers or kneeling round the throne already speak to us of Fra Angelico, while new and brilliant effects of colour are produced by the use of transparent white glazes. As in the works of many Sienese painters, reality is sacrificed to artistic effect, and under the saintly artist’s hand, earthly objects are trans-figured by the glory of heaven. The Camaldolese painter soon acquired a fame which drew him beyond the narrow precincts of his convent walls. In 1402, he went to Rome to paint a missal for Cardinal Acciaiuoli, and on his return he was employed by the City Guilds to design cartoons for the stained-glass windows of Or’ San Michele. He also painted the choir-books of the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, and, in 1422, received 114 gold florins for an altar-piece which he executed for the Chapel of S. Egidio in that foundation. No record of him is found after this date, and his death took place when he was away from Florence, about 1425. Lorenzo Monaco’s career gave a marked impulse to the practice of art within the cloister, and a school of miniature painters sprang up in the convent of S. Maria degli Angeli, which soon found rivals in the other monastic communities of Florence, more especially in the Dominican houses of Fiesole and S. Marco.
Florence.Santa Croce: Baroncelli Chapel: FrescoesLife of the Virgin.
” Medici Chapel: Coronation of the Virgin.
” Accademia: 104-115. Life of Christ; 117-126. Life of St. Francis.
GIOVANNI DA MILANO-
Florence.Santa Croce: Cappella Rinuccini: FrescoesLives of the Virgin and Magdalene.
” Accademia: 131. Pietà, 1365.
Florence.Santa Croce: FrescoesLife of St. Sylvester.
” Accademia : 27. Pietà.
Florence.Santa Croce: FrescoesLegend of the True Cross.
Prato.Duomo : FrescoesLegend of the Holy Girdle.
Florence.Santa Maria Novella. Strozzi Chapel: FrescoesLast Judgment, Inferno, Paradiso. Altar-piece Christ and Saints.
ANDREA DA FIRENZE-
Florence.Spanish Chapel: Frescoes.
Pisa.Cam,5o Santo : FrescoesLife of S. Ranieri.
Pisa.Campo Santo: FrescoesLife of S. Ranieri.
Florence. S. Miniato al Monte: Frescoes Life of St. Benedict ; S. Maria Novella. Farmacia : Life of Christ.
Pisa.Campo Santo: FrescoesLives of S. Efeso and Potito. Siena.Palazzo Pubblico: FrescoesWars of Barbarossa.
Florence.Accademia aelle Belle Arti:
144. Life of S. Onofrio.
146. Life of St Martin.
Uffizi : 39. Adoration of Magi.
41. Madonna and Saints. 1309. Coronation.
” S. Trinità : Annunciation.
” Bartolini Chapel: FrescoesLife of Virgin. Bergamo.Gallery: 10. Dead Christ.
Prato.Gallery : 3. Madonna and Saints.
Berlin.110. Madonna and Saints.
London.National Gallery: 215, 216. Saints.
Munich.Pinacothek : 96. St. Peter.
Paris.Cluny Museum: 1667. Agony in Garden. Maries at Tomb.
Fresco is a method of painting on a surface of wet plaster, made of lime and sand, spread over the wall. In buon fresco, the colours were laid on this coating or intonaco while it was still wet, and allowed to sink into the plaster. In fresco a secco the last coat of plaster was allowed to dry, scraped smooth, and wetted again before it was painted. Both processes were commonly used by early Florentine masters for mural painting, and are fully described by Cennino, but were considerably modified by later artists. Tempera, or distemper, the process commonly used by Italian masters in painting altar-pieces and other panels, consisted of mixing colours with water and yolk of egg, sometimes diluted with the milky juice of the fig-tree. Frescoes were often retouched in tempera and fresco a secco, and oil varnishes, Cennino tells us, were applied both to fresco and tempera paintings as early as the fourteenth century.