Renaissance Sculpture In Italy – Part 3


THE SIENESE SCHOOL. Siena remained longer than Florence under the influence of Gothic art. Her most distinguished sculptor, Jacopo della Quercia (1371—1438), developed along the same path as Donatello. His earliest works, as illustrated by the Fonte Gaja (1409—1419) in Siena, were thoroughly Gothic in character. Then followed a period when graceful motives of classic origin controlled his style. To this time belongs the beautiful tomb of Ilaria del Caretto (1413) in the cathedral at Lucca. Later, a dramatic quality appeared in his work. This character is exhibited by the reliefs about the central portal of S. Petronio, Bologna (1425—1438). Though somewhat heavy, their dramatic force had a perceptible influence upon the work of Michelangelo.

Quercia’s influence was not marked in Siena. Something of his Gothic manner was perpetuated in the hard, dry, but technically excellent work of Lorenzo Vecchietta (1412—148o), and something of his classic manner may be seen in the harmonious work of Antonio Federighi (circa 1420—1490). The reliefs and statuettes of Turino di Sano and Giovanni di Turino for Quercia’s celebrated font in the baptistery are lacking in style, and Francesco di Giorgio’s bronze angels (1439—1502) in the cathedral are exceedingly mannered. Giacomo Cozzarelli (1453—1515) was an excellent workman in bronze, and produced some interesting busts in terracotta. In Lorenzo di Mariano (d. 1534) we recognize a typical Sienese artist of higher quality. His high altar in the church of Fontegiusta exhibited, in its sculptured Pieta, Sienese tenderness of sentiment, and its elaborate architectural decoration was in the line of development of Sienese ornament.

Quercia’s remarkable work at Bologna did not secure for him a school of followers there. Niccolo da Bari, called Niccolo dell’ Arca (1414—1494), reflected something of his influence in a terracotta Madonna outside of the Palazzo Pubblico, but the work which gave Niccolb his title to fame, the completion of the Arca di S. Domenico, was a thoroughly independent work. The varied character of Niccolo’s style may be still further illustrated by a group of the Lamentation over the body of Christ, in the little church of S. Maria della Vita, Bologna. This realistic, emotional group seems to have given an impulse to Guido Mazzoni (1450-1518), of Modena, whose works of a similar character in his native town, in Ferrara, and in Naples formed a distinct class of monuments, foreign to the refined spirit of the Florentines, but popular with the philistines in the provinces. Mazzoni made the Italian peasant participate as principal actor in representations of sacred story. His work may be regarded as one phase of Lombard naturalism. Elsewhere in Lombardy, and in parts of Germany, similar groups were popular.

THE MILANESE SCHOOL. In Lombardy, at Bergamo, Parma, Cremona, and especially at Milan and Pavia, we find a school of sculptors who left their mark over a large portion of Italy, especially in the north. Gothic traditions, more firmly established than in Florence, checked but did not overcome the advance of the Renaissance. When Michelozzo came from Florence to Milan he bent his style to suit Milanese taste. Here there was a demand for luxuriant decoration, which was easily embodied in terracotta. In this decoration we find a multiplication of details rather than a massive treatment, a subordination of the larger arts, architecture and sculpture, to the minor arts of the joiner and the miniature painter. But if we view Lombard sculpture apart from its surroundings, it has a sharp, crisp, vigorous character which commands our attention and not infrequently our admiration. Especially noteworthy are the sculptures of the cathedral at Milan, of the Certosa at Pavia, and of the Colleoni Chapel at Bergamo. The Mantegazza brothers, Cristoforo (d. 1482) and Antonio (d. 1495), chief sculptors at the Certosa, were among the first to represent drapery in what has been termed the cartaceous manner, from its resemblance to wet paper. This manner was hard, academic, conventional. Their successor Giovanni Antonio Omodeo (1447-1522), in his decorative sculptures for the Colleoni Chapel, and in the tombs of Medea and Bartolommeo Colleoni at Bergamo, in his work for the exterior and interior of the Certosa at Pavia, and in the Borrommeo monuments at Isola Bella in the Lago Maggiore, exhibited a marked advance in the direction of naturalism and classic beauty.

Other Milanese sculptors, who lived on into the sixteenth century, were : Cristoforo Solari, whose Beatrice and Ludovico il Moro at the Certosa were conceived in the spirit of the Early Renaissance, but whose works produced subsequent to his visit to Rome showed the influence of Michelangelo; Caradosso (1445 ?-1527), who was considered by Benvenuto Cellini the most skilful goldsmith he ever met, and whose terracotta reliefs in the sacristy of S. Satiro were almost equal to the works of I)onatello ; and Agostino Busti, called Bambaja (1480-1548), whose unfinished monument to Gaston de Foix, though somewhat mannered in style, carried to its utmost limit the application of the miniature style to monumental sculpture. When we add to these the names of Andrea Bregno (1411-1506), of Andrea Fusina (fl. 1495), of Ambrogino da Milano (fl. 1475), all of whom produced works of admirable quality, we find a strong and powerful school of sculptors, not the product of Florentine influence, but of local development.

Milanese sculptors largely supplied the demand for sculpture in Genoa, Bergamo, Brescia, and other North Italian towns. As we turn toward the east, the influence of Venice is more apparent. Verona maintained her Gothic traditions strongly enough to subject a Florentine sculptor, Giovanni di Bartolo, to her methods. Her style was half-Lombard, half-Venetian, as may be seen in the terracotta decoration by the unknown ” Master of the Pellegrini Chapel ” in the church of S. Anastasia.

THE VENETIAN SCHOOL. Venice produced an independent school of sculptors, whose influence radiated to Istria and Dalmatia on the one hand, and to Verona and Brescia on the other. This school represented a taste for rich decorative works, less prosaic than the productions of the Milanese, and of a tenderer sentiment than those of the Florentines. Both Milan and Florence appealed to the intellect, Venice to the pleasurable emotions excited by graceful, luxuriant forms. The Gothic style had assumed in Venice a too attractive character to be easily cast aside. Accordingly, the transitional period, in which Gothic motives lived on by the side of those of the Renaissance, was a long one in Venice. Outsiders like Piero di Niccolo of Florence and Giovanni di Martino of Fiesole, as may be seen in their tomb for the Doge Tommaso Mocenigo (d. 1423), produced works in accord with Venetian traditions. Neither Donatello and his followers at Padua nor Antonio Rizo of Verona had any marked influence in changing the trend of Venetian sculpture. The continuity of its development is exhibited in the transitional work of Bartolommeo Buon in the decoration of the Porta della Carta of the Doge’s palace, and reached the naturalistic, classic, and humanistic stage in the work of Pietro Lombardo (d. 1515). Lombard modes of composition are evident in his tombs for the Doges Niccolo Marcello (d. 1474) and Pietro Mocenigo (d. 1476), but a thoroughly Venetian charm and exquisite fancy pervade his decorative sculptures at S. Maria dei Miracoli. His son, Tullio Lombardo, who may have assisted him at S. Maria dei Miracoli, exhibited an artificial grace in his more independent work for the Chapel of S. Antonio at Padua.

Tullio’s younger brother, Antonio Lombardo, lacked even artificial gracefulness in his work. Alessandro Leopardi (d. 1522), however, showed himself a worthy successor of Pietro, in his charming base for the Colleoni statue, in his sculptured work for the tomb of the Doge A. Vendramin, and in the bronze flagstaffs in the Piazza S. Marco.

The influence of the Venetian school of sculpture extended southward to Ravenna, Cesena, Faenza, and Ancona.

THE PADUAN SCHOOL. Padua during the fifteenth century possessed a productive and influential, if not very distinguished, school of sculptors. She had forced Donatello to change his style so as to accord with her inferior canons of taste. His pupils became most popular sculptors. One of the most skilful was Giovanni da Pisa, author of the terra-cotta figures in the chapel to the right of the high altar in the church of the Eremitani. More productive and more widely known was Bartolommeo Bellano (1430-1498), whose lifeless copies in Padua of the work of Donatello and Desiderio showed his lack of originality, while the reliefs which he executed for the pulpits in S. Lorenzo, in Florence, were full of mannerism and a straining for dramatic effect. His manner became somewhat softened after his residence in Venice, where, about 146o, he executed a relief for the facade of S. Zaccaria. His successor Andrea Briosco, called Riccio (1470-1532), inherited something of his manner, but moderated by a wider acquaintance with classic art. In the minor arts the fancy of Riccio found constant stimulus. In the production of small bronze reliefs for the decoration of many household objects, in his candlesticks and jewel chests and figurines he showed himself a master, and stimulated a school of followers known by such pseudonyms as Antico, Modern, Ulocrino, etc. When he attempted monumental works, he showed him-self still the miniature artist. The influence of the Paduan school, though widely extended, was chiefly felt in Mantua and Ferrara.

SCHOOLS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ITALY. Umbria, the Marches, and the Abruzzi were poor in native sculptors. Through many towns in the neighborhood of Arcevia, Fra Mattia della Robbia exerted a strong influence with terracotta sculpture, and at Aquila interesting monuments were executed by the pupils of Donatello, Andrea and Silvestro da Aquila; but these works were essentially Florentine.

Rome seemed to lose her independence in sculpture with the expiration of the Cosmati school. Her best monuments of the fifteenth century were by sculptors of other schools, Donatello and Antonio Pollajuolo, Mino da Fiesole and Giovanni of Dalmatia, Isaia of Pisa, Andrea Bregno, and Luigi Capponi of Milan. Eclecticism prevailed to such an extent that sculptors representing different styles each impressed his own methods upon the same monument. Native sculptors were few. One of these, Paolo Taccone, called Romano, exhibited a Roman preference for figures in the round, but his general style was dependent on that of Isaia of Pisa. Still less can Gian-Cristoforo Romano, the son of Isaia of Pisa, be reckoned as representing the Roman school. He drifted to Lombardy, and there worked in the Milanese style.

Naples exhibited the same lack of independence. Tuscan and Lombard sculptors produced the finest sculptural monuments of which Naples could boast during this century. The only native artists of fame were Andrea Ciccione and Antonio di Domenico da Bamboccio (1351-1422). Their work, faulty in design and extravagant in color, was far behind that of the northern sculptors.

In Southern Italy, Renaissance sculpture was conditioned by preexisting Byzantine influence, and thus approximated the Venetian type. In Sicily an influence of similar character, was represented in the work of Francesco da Laurana, a Dalmatian, while the types and methods of Domenico Gagini and his son, Antonio Gagini (1478-1536), were predominantly Lombard.

EXTANT MONUMENTS. Early Renaissance sculpture in Italy may be best studied in the churches and public buildings, especially in Florence, Milan, Venice, Padua, Rome. The most important museums for this purpose are the Museo Nazionale, Florence ; the Royal Museum, Berlin ; the Louvre, Paris ; and the South Kensington, London. A representative collection of Renaissance casts is to be placed in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.