Melozzo, of the Ambrosi family, was born at Forli, but probably studied both architecture and painting in Urbino, where he was familiarly known. The first record of his work is his employment by Pope Sixtus IV, 1475-1480, in the decoration of the remodeled church of the Holy Apostles and in the commemoration of the founding of the Vatican Library. He was one of the first members of the newly established Academy of St. Luke. For the library of the palace of Urbino he painted the Seven Liberal Arts, only three of which are now in existence. The work of few artists has suffered so much destruction, but even the fragments that remain place Melozzo very high as a creative genius, able to unite science and beauty.
Marco Palmezzano signed himself as pupil of Melozzo, and their works have consequently been confused. He was especially interested in geometrical and architectural drawings. Much of his work is in Forli, his native place.
Notes On The Pictures.
No. 238. The Saviour.
No. 239. Head of Apostle.
No. 240. Angel with Viol.
No. 241. Angel with Lute.
No. 242. Angel with Timbrel.
Sacristy, St. Peter’s, Rome.
Frescos from the half-dome of the tribune of SS. Apostoli, Rome, painted 1475-1480, when Pope Sixtus IV remodeled the sixth century church. The tribune was destroyed in 1711, and only fragments of Melozzo’s work are preserved. The subject of the painting was the Ascension of Christ among cherubs, with angels playing musical instruments, and apostles gazing upward.
Note the daring foreshortening of the faces and figures to compensate for the curve of the apse, the vigor and vitality of these angel forms, the strength of character suggested, as well as the physical beauty expressed. Observe the attitude of Christ. Study the method of painting in the head of the apostle. Compare the angels with other conceptions.
The colors are clear and pale and of such equal tone that in the original the modeling is less apparent and the curved surface of the dome more clearly felt than in the print.
No. 243. Annunciation.
Portions of organ doors. On the reverse or outer sides are the lower halves of colossal figures of male saints. Recently discovered and placed in the Uffizi.
The picture of the angel was not completed, and shows the sketching in of drapery and wings. The figure has the vitality of Melozzo’s later work, but is conventionalized in the interest of decoration.
No. 244. Sixtus IV giving audience to Platina.
Gallery, Vatican, Rome.
Pope Sixtus IV devoted the ground floor beneath the Sistine Chapel in the building erected 1473-1481, to the Library begun by Nicholas V. Melozzo’s fresco was at the end of the apartment, repeating its architecture. Platina, the newly appointed librarian, kneels before the Pope, who is surrounded by his nephews, chief of whom, Giuliano, later to be Pope Julius II, stands before him.
Study the fine proportions of the architectural setting, the arrangement of figures, the characterization of faces.
No. 245. Rhetoric.
National Gallery, London.
One of the seven ” Liberal Arts ” painted for the library of the palace of Urbino. The Music is also in London, and Dialectic is in Berlin. The attribution of these panels to Melozzo is questioned.
Rhetoric, the art of persuasion, is here being expounded, perhaps from Aristotle’s famous treatise, to the youthful scholar.
No. 278. Madonna enthroned with Four Saints.
On wood, painted in 1493 by Palmezzano. The saints are John the Baptist, Peter, Dominic and Mary Magdalen. Compare in interest and beauty with other Umbrian paintings.