The Early Renaissance

(Renaissance  Art Map)


Stefano da Verona (Stefano da Zevio)


Lorenzo Ghiberti

Jacopo della Quercia

 Pietro Perugino



New Ideas

The revival of antique texts and sculptures led to a general feeling of artistic rebirth, typified by the pioneering art history book Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari (1511-74). This was published in its expanded form in 1568. The literary form of biography had been developed by the 15th century, particularly in Tuscany. In works such as Ghiberti's Commentari (c.1445) and the anonymous Life of Filippo Brunelleschi, the authors combined praise of one or more artists with an emphasis on the primacy of new "modern" ideas over traditional values. The beginnings of the rinascita, or "rebirth", especially in painting, are identified with the movement towards realism as instigated by
Cimabue (c.l240-c.l302) and Giotto (1267-1337) during the 14th century. According to Vasari, this Golden Age advanced from the art of Masaccio (1401-28) through to works by Perugino (c.1450-1523) towards a new-found natural truth; he wrote in 1550: "we shall see all things infinitely improved, compositions with many more figures, richer in ornamentation; and design that is better grounded and more true to life...the style lighter, the colours more delicate, so that the arts will be close to perfection and to the exact imitation of the truth of nature." The changes from the Gothic style that occured in architecture are more difficult to recognize. The design of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore by Brunelleschi followed the classical experiments of Alberti, and it was later praised by Alberti in his first theoretical work on the arts. De Pictura, which he dedicated to. amongst other leading artists. Brunelleschi, and which earned him a  reputation as a supreme innovator. The complex changes of the time also affected the Rome of Popes Eugenius IV and Nicholas V. After the schismatic crisis of Avignon in 1377, they intended to reaffirm the central authority of the See of Saint Peter by emphasizing the Imperial and Christian past of the city, and by defining the requirements for the reconstruction of the Vatican basilica in terms that still expressed the Gothic aesthetic. For example, Nicholas V's famous Testamento placed great emphasis on light and refinement. The return to classicism, whether as the standard for harmony and proportion in the design of monuments, or in the revival of details from antiquity, became a distinguishing factor in the development of the new architecture. Brunelleschi demonstrated this change in taste and renewed interest in classical style in the designs of his two Florentine basilicas, San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito, when he tackled the problems of Vitruvius' theory of order and attempted to create an ordered, harmonious balance that paralleled the discovery of perspective by painters at the same time. Brunelleschi's meticulous design for the capitals commemorated the most prestigious Roman remains, and were probably perfected during a stay in the city. The preference in the Tuscan Romanesque style for the inclusion of marble in the walls also harks back to classical models.


See also COLLECTION: Pietro Perugino



born c. 1450, , Citta della Pieve,near Perugia, Romagna
died , February/March 1523, Fontignano, near Perugia

byname of Pietro Di Cristoforo Vannucci Italian early Renaissance painter of the Umbria school, the teacher of Raphael. His work (e.g., “Giving of the Keys to St. Peter,” 1481–82, a fresco in the Sistine Chapel, Rome) anticipated High Renaissance ideals in its compositional clarity, sense of spaciousness, and economy of formal elements.

Early work.

Nothing is known for certain of Perugino's early training, but he may have been a pupil of Fiorenzo di Lorenzo (c. 1440–1525), a minor painter in Perugia, and of the renowned Umbrian Piero della Francesca (c. 1420–92) in Arezzo, in which case he would have been a fellow pupil of one of his most famous contemporaries, Luca Signorelli. The two men were acquainted, and an occasional influence from Signorelliis visible in Perugino's work, notably in the direction of an increased hardness of drawing (e.g., “Crucifixion and Saints,”c. 1480–1500; Uffizi, Florence). In Florence, where he is first recorded in 1472, he almost certainly worked in the shop of the important painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio, where the young Leonardo da Vinci was apprenticed.

The first certain work by Perugino is a “Saint Sebastian,” at Cerqueto, near Perugia. This fresco, or mural painted on plaster with water-dissolved pigments, dates from 1478 and is typical of Perugino's style. He must have attained a considerable reputation by this time, since he probably worked for Pope Sixtus IV in Rome, 1478–79, on frescoes nowlost. Sixtus IV also employed him to paint a number of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Palace. Completed between 1481 and 1482, three narrative scenes behind the altar were destroyed by Michelangelo in 1535–36 in order to use the space for his fresco of the “Last Judgment.” Of the scenes completely by Perugino's own hand, only the fresco “Giving of the Keys to St. Peter” has survived. The simple and lucid arrangement of the composition reveals the centre of narrative action, unlike thefrescoes in the same series by the Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli, which, in comparison, appear overcrowded and confused in their narrative focus. After completing his work in the Sistine Chapel, Perugino returned to Florence, where he was commissioned to work in the Palazzo della Signoria. In 1491 he was invited to sit on the committee concerned with finishing the Florence cathedral.

Mature work.

From approximately 1490 to 1500 Perugino was at his mostproductive and at the artistic summit of his career. Among the finest of his works executed during this time are the “Vision of St. Bernard,” the “Madonna and Saints,” the “Pietà,” and the fresco of the “Crucifixion” for the Florentine convent of Sta. Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi. These works are characterized by ample sculpturesque figures gracefully posed in simple Renaissance architectural settings, which act as a frame to the images and the narrative. The harmonious space is tightly controlled in the foreground and middle ground, while the background effect is conversely one of infinite space. During this period he painted his best known portrait, a likeness of “Francesco delle Opere.” Perugino must have been well acquainted with the late 15th-century portraiture of Flanders, since the influence of the Flemish painter Hans Memling is unmistakable.

Commissioned by the guild of bankers of Perugia, Perugino painted a fresco cycle in their Sala dell'Udienza that is believed to have been completed during or shortly after 1500, the date that appears opposite Perugino's self-portrait in one of the scenes. The importance of these frescoes lies less in their artistic merit than in the fact that the young Raphael, Perugino's pupil around 1500, probablywas an assistant learning the technique of fresco painting. An allegorical figure of Fortitude from this series is often attributed to Raphael.

Late work.

After 1500, Perugino's art began to decline, and he frequently repeated his earlier compositions in a routine manner. Giorgio Vasari, a 16th-century biographer and artist,wrote that the critical Florentines began to lampoon him, andPerugino replied that they had once praised his work, and, ifhe now gave the same designs, they had no right to blame him. It is certainly true that the “Combat of Love and Chastity” (Louvre, Paris) was commissioned in 1503 by Isabella d'Este and was delivered only in 1505, after a great many letters had passed between all concerned, at which time Isabella expressed herself as satisfied but only moderately so. In fact, Perugino left Florence about 1505 and began to work principally for the less critical public of Umbria.

In 1508 he made a temporary comeback by painting roundels on the ceiling of the Stanza dell'Incendio in the Vatican. The commission for the frescoes on the walls of the room went to his pupil Raphael, who, in the few years after leaving Perugino's studio, proved himself the greater artist.

One of Perugino's last commissions was the completion in 1521 of some frescoes in S. Severo, Perugia, which had been begun by Raphael. He was still painting in February or March 1523 when he died of the plague. The fresco of the “Nativity,” in the National Gallery, London, comes from Fontignano and is generally supposed to be Perugino's last work.

Peter J. Murray




Cupola, Santa Maria del Fiore


In his enthusiastic report of
Filippo Brunelleschi's dome (1420-36) for Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Leon Battista Alberti records the "structure so great, challenging the sky. wide enough to cover with its shadow all the people of Tuscany." Brunelleschi's Vita and Ghiberti's Commentari give two very different accounts of the competition for its design. The dome had to be set on an existing octagonal drum constructed during the 14th century according to a plan by Arnolfo di Cambio. Manetti describes Brunelleschi waiting to be called by the wardens of the cathedral and the consuls of the Wool Guild, who would soon realise that he was the only-architect capable of raising a dome large enough to cover the tribune without the help of scallolding. Ghiberti claimed that the project was the result of a collaboration, which was then abandoned, because he had other work to carry out. Brunelleschi dismissed "centering" and, instead, created a curtain wall and two vaults that allowed the dome to support itself, rising towards the lantern. The discovery of this engineering technique has always been attributed to Brunelleschi, who transformed and modernized this 14th-century building.





Giorgio Vasari (1511-74)

Life of Filippo Brunelleschi


Florentine sculptor and architect, 1377 - 1446

The world having for so long been without artists of lofty soul or inspired talent, heaven ordained that it should receive from the hand of Filippo the greatest, the tallest, and the finest edifice of ancient and modern times, demonstrating that Tuscan genius, although moribund, was not yet dead.


Crucifix, Santa Maria Novella


The Sacrifice of Isaac


Santa Maria del Fiore


Cupola interior




Pazzi Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence


Cloister of the men, Ospedale degli Innocenti

San Lorenzo

Santo Spirito

"Donatello made a wooden crucifix which was placed in Santa Croce [and] he was anxious to hear Filippo's opinion of it; but Filippo told him that he had shown a peasant hanging on the cross. This provoked Donatello to retort: 'Get some wood and do it yourself"...Filippo kept quiet for a few months while he worked on a wooden crucifix of the same size...Today this work is in Santa Maria Novella." I-137

"[In the competition for the doors for the Baptistery] the panel by Filippo was almost as good [as Ghiberti's]: his scene of Abraham sacrificing Isaac showed a servant who, as he waits for Abraham and while the ass is grazing, is drawing a thorn from his foot." I-138

"[In 1417] the wardens of works of Santa Maria del Fiore called a congress of local architects and engineers to discuss how to raise the cupola...Filippo's advice was that they should construct a frieze thirty feet high, with a large round window in each of its sides, since this would take the weight off the supports of the tribunes." I-144

"There were some who suggested that the best method would be to fill it with a mixture of earth and coins so that when it was raised those who wanted could help themselves to the earth, and in that way they would quickly remove it all without expense. Filippo alone said it could be raised without a great deal of woodwork, without piers or earth." I-145

"The wardens said that his ideas were as mad as he was. Filippo took offence at this and said: 'What is necessary is that the cupola should be turned with the curve of a pointed arch and made double, with one vault inside and the other outside so that a man can walk upright between them..I can already envisage the complete vaulting and I know there is no way of doing it other than as I'm explaining.'" I-145

"They were incapable of grasping what he [meant], but showed themeselves inclined to give him the work. They did however want to see how the cupola could be raised without any centering..As it happens they were fortunate because Bartolommeo Barbardori wanted a chapel built in Santa Felicita and Filippo had had this chapel vaulted without using framework." I-148

"Filippo's scaffolding was put up with such intelligence and skill that it completely belied what people had been saying before, because the masons stood there, working safely and drawing up materials, as securely as if they were on solid earth. (The models of his scaffolding are preserved in the Office of Works)." I-154

"Everything was very carefully arranged...He had thought of irons for fixing scaffolding inside, in case there were a need to do mosaics or painting." I-157

"He continued to make such progress that there was nothing, however difficult it might seem, that he did not make easy and simple. For example, by using counterweights and wheels for lifting he made it possible for a single ox to raise a load so heavy that previously it would hardly have been possible for six pairs of oxen to move it." I-157

"Filippo also made a model for the lantern; this had eight sides and was in proportion with the cupola and it was beautifully successful in invention, variety and adornment...Because he was now old and would not see the lantern finished he stipulated in his will that it should be built with the model and the written instructions that he left." I-159

"As to how beautiful the edifice is, it is its own witness. From ground level to the lantern the height is 308 feet, the body of the lantern is 72 feet, the copper ball is eight feet, the cross sixteen feet, and the whole is 404 feet; and it can confidently be asserted that the ancients never built to such a height nor risked challenging the sky itself." I-160

"While all this work was going on Filippo made several other buildings which we shall now describe in order. For the Pazzi family he made with his own hand the model for the chapter house in Santa Croce at Florence, a work of great beauty and variety." I-160

"And likewise, he made the model for the house and loggia of the Innocenti, the vaulting for which was completed without scaffolding, a method still universally used today." I-160

"For Cosimo de'Medici Filippo made the model of the abbey of the Canons-regular of Fiesole, which is a richly decorated piece of architecture, pleasing, commodious and altogether magnificent." I-160

As the reconstruction of the Badia in Fiesole was not begun until 1456, ten years after Brunelleschi's death, Vasari's attribution is contested.

"The church, with its barrel vaulting, is very spacious, and the sacristy, like all the rest of the monastery, is very conveniently laid out." I-161

"But most worth considering is the way in which, as the building had to be erected on the slope of the mountain, Filippo very intelligently made use of the foundation where he put the cellars, laundries, bakehouses, stables, kitchens, fuel stores, and any number of convenient offices..." I-161

"At that time work was started on the church of San Lorenzo at Florence..Cosimo [de' Medici] pushed the work on with greater enthusiasm and it was because of his solicitude that Filippo completed the sacristy and Donatello made the stuccoes and the bronze doors and the stone ornaments for the little doors." I-162

"It remained to construct the nave and the rest of the church; the roofing for these was not completed till after Filippo's death. Filippo left the finished model of San Lorenzo and also completed part of the capitular buildings for the priests." I-163

"Filippo also made the model for that curious church of the Angeli, which was commissioned by the noble Scolari family, and which remained unfinished as we see it today; this, it is said, was because the Florentines spent the money which had been put in the Monte for that purpose to meet some expenses involved in the war against the Lucchesi." I-164

"When the leaders of the Guelph Party in Florence decided to put up a building with a hall and an audience chamber for their headquarters...after the building had been raised about twenty feet from the ground the work was seen to be full of mistakes and it was given to Filippo, who completed it as the magnificent structure that we can see today." I-169

"Today the hall of that palace is no longer used by the leaders of the party, for when the papers of the Monte were badly damaged in the flood of 1557 the Lord Duke Cosimo decided to put the papers there." I-169

"So that the leaders [of the party] could make use of the old palace his excellency commissioned from Giorgio Vasari the commodious staircase which now leads to the hall. The same artist also designed a stone balcony which has now been placed on fluted pilasters of macigno." I-170


See also COLLECTION: Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Ghiberti

born c. 1378, , Pelago, Italy
died Dec. 1, 1455, Florence

important early Italian Renaissance sculptor, whose doors (“Gates of Paradise”; 1425–52)for the Baptistery ofthe cathedral of Florence are considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Italian art in the Quattrocento. Otherworks include three bronze statues for Or San Michele (1416–25) and the reliefs for Siena cathedral (1417–27). Ghiberti also wrote three treatises on art history and theory.

Ghiberti's mother had married Cione Ghiberti in 1370, andthey lived in Pelago, near Florence; at some point she went to Florence and lived there as the common-law wife of a goldsmith named Bartolo di Michele. They were married in 1406 after Cione died, and it was in their home that LorenzoGhiberti spent his youth. It is not certain which man was Ghiberti's father, for he claimed each as his father at separate times. But throughout his early years, Lorenzo considered himself Bartolo's son, and it was Bartolo who trained the boy as a goldsmith. Ghiberti also received training as a painter; as he reported in the autobiographical part of his writings, he left Florence in 1400 with a painter to work in the town of Pesaro for its ruler, Sigismondo Malatesta.

Ghiberti returned quickly to his home city when he heard, in1401, that a competition was being held for the commission to make a pair of bronze doors for the Baptistery of the cathedral of Florence. He and six other artists were given thetask of representing the biblical scene of Abraham's sacrificeof Isaac in a bronze relief of quatrefoil shape. The entry panels of Ghiberti and of Filippo Brunelleschi are the sole survivors of the contest. Ghiberti's panels displayed a graceful and lively composition executed with a mastery of the goldsmith's art. In 1402 Ghiberti was chosen to make the doors by a large panel of judges; their decision brought immediate and lasting recognition and prominence to the young artist. The contract was signed in 1403 with Bartolo di Michele's workshop—overnight the most prestigious in Florence—and in 1407 Lorenzo legally took over the commission.

The work on the doors lasted until 1424, but Ghiberti did not devote himself to this alone. He created designs for the stained-glass windows in the cathedral; he regularly served as architectural consultant to the cathedral building supervisors, although it is unlikely that he actually collaborated with Brunelleschi on the construction of the dome as he later claimed. The Arte dei Mercanti di Calimala, the guild of the merchant bankers, gave him another commission, around 1412, to make a larger than life-size bronze statue of their patron saint, John the Baptist, for a niche on the outside of the guilds' common building, Or San Michele. The job was a bold undertaking, Ghiberti's first departure from goldsmith-scale work; it was, in fact, the first large bronze in Florence. Ghiberti successfully finished the “St. John” in 1416, adding gilding in the following year. The technical achievement and the modernity of its style brought Ghiberti commissions for two similarly large bronze figures for guild niches at Or San Michele: the “St. Matthew” in 1419 for the bankers' guild and the “St. Stephen” for the wool guild in 1425.

These last two commissions brought Ghiberti into open competition with the newly prominent younger sculptors Donatello and Nanni di Banco, who had made stone statues for Or San Michele after Ghiberti's first figure there. The “St. John” was a frail figure enveloped by flowing draperies. It is characteristic of the style art historians call InternationalGothic, which swept Europe in the late 14th century and was quite new in Florence in the early 15th century. Ghiberti's “St. John” combined the soft draperies and closely observed,small-scale details in a sculpture larger than life. Donatello's“St. Mark” and “St. George” and Nanni di Banco's “St. Philip” and “Quattro Coronati” (“Four Crowned Saints”) were as large as Ghiberti's figure but were designed with monumental proportions to match their scale. The boldness and strength of the weighty new classical figures constituteda challenge for Ghiberti, but he met it with success in his next sculptures, and maintained his preeminent position as aleading artist in Florence.

The teens and '20s were years of flourishing expansion for Ghiberti and his firm. He had completed a great deal of the modelling and casting of the panels for the Baptistery doors by 1413, and he was in control of a smoothly functioning workshop with many assistants. In 1417 Ghiberti was askedto make two bronze reliefs for the baptismal font of the cathedral in Siena; he was so busy that he only finished them, under pressure from the Sienese authorities, 10 years later. In 1419, when Pope Martin V was in Florence, Ghiberti was called on as a goldsmith to fashion a morse and mitre forthe Pontiff; unfortunately these pieces, like other examples of Ghiberti's art in rare stones and precious metals, have disappeared. During these years, too, Lorenzo found a wife—Marsilia, the 16-year-old daughter of Bartolomeo di Luca, a wool carder. She soon bore him two sons: Tommaso was born in 1417 and Vittorio the next year; his sons later joined Ghiberti in his business, and Vittorio continued its operation after his father's death. Ghiberti's artistic success also had its financial rewards; a surviving tax returnof 1427 lists property in Florence, land out of town, and a substantial amount of money invested in government bonds to his credit. Over the years, his real estate and monetary holdings continued to grow. In addition to being well paid, Ghiberti was a businessman who managed his affairs shrewdly. He was a well-to-do member of Florentine society and a rich man among the artists of his time.

Ghiberti was actively involved with and interested in other artists and their work; some (Donatello, Paolo Uccello, Michelozzo, Benozzo Gozzoli) had worked for a time in his workshop as young assistants. Ghiberti's association with the painter Fra Angelico is documented: Ghiberti designed the frame for his “Linaiuoli Altarpiece.” In his commentaries, Ghiberti exaggerates only a bit when he proudly claims that “few important things were done in our city which were not devised or designed by my hand”; among his undocumented works may be noted some half-dozen floor tombs and sarcophagi, but the vast extent to which Ghiberti's providing of designs and models influenced Florentine art is hard to measure. He appears to have shared his knowledge and talent generously and freely. Long before the completion of his second pair of doors (the “Gates of Paradise”) in 1452, the fund of figures and models assembled in connection with this work, which the public sawonly later, was open to painters of frescoes in the Chiostro Verde (Green Cloister) of SS. Annunziata and to the sculptor Luca della Robbia, who was working on a marble singing gallery for the cathedral. Naturally, the impact of the “Gates” increased after they were installed.

When he was 45 years old, Ghiberti finished the first doors. They are the effort of more than 20 years of work and the major sculptural complex of the International Gothic style in Italy. They show some changes in the latest parts, however, to a more classical style that emphasizes the bodies of figures more than the elegant draperies that enfold them. Ghiberti created expressive, strong faces based on examples he knew of ancient Roman art—portrait busts and carved sarcophagi. Because of the success of the first doors,a contract was soon signed with the Calimala for a second pair, but the political and financial fortunes of the city and the guild did not permit work to get underway for about five years.

Following the completion of the first doors, Ghiberti embarked on a decade of intense exploration of new ways of forming pictorial space and making gracefully active and lifelike figures. His works of the late 1420s show him able to make space increasingly intelligible in a series of clearly receding planes; using shallow relief, Ghiberti depicted volumes of bodies and deep architectural spaces. Examples of these are the reliefs in Siena; the Dati Tomb (the bronze plaque for the floor tomb of the Dominican general Leonardo Dati); and the two shrines in Florence, “Cassa di S. Zenobius” (a bronze casket with relief panels of stories from the saint's life) and “Shrine of SS. Protus, Hyacinth, and Nemesius” (a bronze container for the relics of three martyrs). It is likely that at this time Ghiberti encountered Leon Battista Alberti, a young Humanist scholar, who, inspired by the new art in Florence, was composing theoretical treatises on the visual arts. Their mutual belief that beauty was synonymous with the conception they shared of antique art makes it difficult to know whether or not Alberti's ideas in De pictura (On Painting) precede the three panels of the second door (Isaac, Joseph, and Solomon), which are the visual equivalent of those ideas. The beauty of antique art meant for both Alberti and Ghiberti an idealization of nature; capturing its essence meant revealing life by depicting movement, life's most salient visible characteristic. For the representation of a realistic spatial setting for these naturalistic figures, Alberti's treatise sets forth a perspective system for projecting such spaces onto the picture plane of a painting or bas-relief. Ghiberti's three panels seem an embodiment of the Humanist's formulations for Renaissance pictorial art, and it is clear that any assessment of his art must account for the incorporation of the new theory as well as for the beauty and charm of these works. Ghiberti was himself so proud that he claimed to have made, in all 10 panels,

architectural settings in the relation with which the eye
measures them, and real to such a degree that. . . one
sees the figures which are near appear larger,
and those that are far off smaller, as reality shows it.

Ghiberti's writings, I Commentarii (probably completed around 1447), shed more light on his Humanist interests.The commentaries are composed of three books. The first, a history of art in ancient times, is Ghiberti's digest of writings of Latin authors he had read on the subject; in it he reveals his belief that the inseparability of practice and theory is responsible for the excellence of ancient art. The second book records the art of the immediate past, and Ghiberti expresses his admiration for certain Sienese painters and for a late 14th-century northern goldsmith named Gusmin who is known only through Ghiberti's pages; this book includes an autobiography, in which Ghiberti establishes his place in the history of art. The last book was apparently more theoretical, but in the surviving manuscript it is fragmentary. The commentaries demonstrate Ghiberti's confidence in his position as an important leader in the Florentine Renaissance—one interested in recapturing the art of the ancients and studyingit as a Humanist scholar would, and one who developed a new style all'antica in which he freely created art works with a grace and beauty that have been found winning since their invention.

Constance Lowenthal


Jacopo della Quercia


Jacopo Della Quercia

The greatest Sienese sculptor of the 15th century, Jacopo della Quercia (c.1371-1438) was a contradictory man whose work successfully combined Gothic and Renaissance elements. His tomb for Maria del Carretto is one of the most serene masterpieces of its time. The reliefs for San Pietro in Bologna show a classical energy and strong realism; they inspired Michelangelo, who saw them in 1494. Among his other masterpieces are the Fonte Gaia (1414-19) in Siena and the polyptych of the Trenta family at San Frediano, Lucca.

Tomb of Ilaria del Carretto (detail)
Cathedral of San Martino, Lucca




In 1401, the Arte di Calimala, a merchant guild, commissioned a competition for the design of a pair of bronze doors for the Baptistry in Florence. The subject given was the sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham. Seven Florentine sculptors were chosen to compete, including the young Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455), a trained painter and goldsmith, and Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446). In both reliefs, the theme is of divine intervention. The boy is on the altar with his father putting the knife to his throat; the angel intervenes, and the ram is visible in the background. The ass drinks water between the two servants. The guild preferred Ghibeiti's subtle, beautiful, and more spiritual composition, but Brunelleschi's is the more dramatic and daring work, full of naturalistic observations and tensions.





In the North, Flemish art was transformed by the dramatic and lively naturalistic style, which had its roots in Florence and travelled north via Burgundy. The Flemish environment, which nurtured
Jan van Eyck (died 1441) and the Master of Flemalle, (thought to be Robert Campin, active 1406-44), was a place of learning and of the diffusion of knowledge, as were Burgundy and central southern Germany. They were all receptive to influences and new ideas from elsewhere. Here, Konrad Witz (c. 1400-46) achieved his forceful vision of realism through sculptural form and a meticulous attention to detail, while Stephan Lochner (1410-51) used shaded colours and a luminous opalescence, reminiscent of the work of Stefano da Verona (1379-c.1438). The network of ecclesiastical and trading relationships that was active in the 15th century favoured a continuous exchange of works and ideas between countries. The work of the great French miniaturist and painter Jean Fouquet (1420-81) spanned and combined elements of Flemish, French, and Italian painting. The works resulting from his stay in Rome in 1447, such as the Diptych of Melun (c.1450), echo the Roman style of Filarete, Fra Angelico, and Masolino, while his miniatures, such as the Antiquites judaiques, reveal his imagination at its most expressive. Another artist who was able to blend Flemish influences with those of the Po Valley was the Spaniard Bartolome Bermejo (c.1440-1500), whose work shows strong links with van Eyck's intense naturalism. This Spanish style, which was resonant with Flemish and Burgundian echoes, reached Naples and influenced the work of Colantonio (active c.1440-70) and members of his workshop. Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, also arranged for illuminated codices for wedding plans to be despatched from the principal Milanese studios to the court of Aragon. It might have been expected that this variety would result in an uneasy juxtaposition of conflicting styles, but the clear and penetrating naturalism of the portraits of Antonello da Messina, as well as those by Colantonio himself, prove this was a successful combination.


Stefano da Verona
(Stefano da Zevio)

(b 1374–5; d c. ?1438).

Italian painter. He was the son of JEAN D’ARBOIS. Vasari first called him Stefano da Verona; in documents he appears as Stefano di Giovanni. The name da Zevio (Stephanus de Gebeto), adopted by local historians, arose from a confusion with Altichiero. Local historians, probably because of Vasari’s chronological incoherence in calling him a student of both Agnolo Gaddi and Liberale da Verona, were also responsible for the creation of other apocryphal Stefanos.

Tres figuras de pie



Madonna in the Rosary
c. 1410
Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona



Adoration of the Magi
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan






Cutting from an Antiphonary



Lorenzo Ghiberti

Jacopo della Quercia

   Pietro Perugino



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