1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gaddi

GADDI. Four painters of the early Florentine school—father, son and two grandsons—bore this name.

1. Gaddo Gaddi was, according to Vasari, an intimate friend of Cimabue, and afterwards of Giotto. The dates of birth and death have been given as 1239 and about 1312; these are probably too early; he may have been born towards 1260, and may have died in or about 1333. He was a painter and mosaicist, is said to have executed the great mosaic inside the portal of the cathedral of Florence, representing the coronation of the Virgin, and may with more certainty be credited with the mosaics inside the portico of the basilica of S. Maria Maggiore, Rome, relating to the legend of the foundation of that church; their date is probably 1308. In the original cathedral of St Peter in Rome he also executed the mosaics of the choir, and those of the front representing on a colossal scale God the Father, with many other figures; likewise an altarpiece in the church of S. Maria Novella, Florence; these works no longer exist. It is ordinarily held that no picture (as distinct from mosaics) by Gaddo Gaddi is now extant. Messrs Crowe & Cavalcaselle, however, consider that the mosaics of S. Maria Maggiore bear so strong a resemblance in style to four of the frescoes in the upper church of Assisi, representing incidents in the life of St Francis (frescoes 2, 3, 4 and especially 5, which shows Francis stripping himself, and protected by the bishop), that those frescoes likewise may, with considerable confidence, be ascribed to Gaddi. Some other extant mosaics are attributed to him, but without full authentication. This artist laid the foundation of a very large fortune, which continued increasing, and placed his progeny in a highly distinguished worldly position.

2. Taddeo Gaddi (about 1300–1366, or later), son of Gaddo, was born in Florence, and is usually said to have been one of Giotto’s most industrious assistants for a period of 24 years. This can hardly be other than an exaggeration; it is probable that he began painting on his own account towards 1330, when Giotto went to Naples. Taddeo also traded as a merchant, and had a branch establishment in Venice. He was a painter, mosaicist and architect. He executed in fresco, in the Baroncelli (now Giugni) chapel, in the Florentine church of S. Croce, the “Virgin and Child between Four Prophets,” on the funeral monument at the entrance, and on the walls various incidents in the legend of the Virgin, from the expulsion of Joachim from the Temple up to the Nativity. In the subject of the “Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple” are the two heads traditionally accepted as portraits of Gaddo Gaddi and Andrea Tafi; they, at any rate, are not likely to be portraits of those artists from the life. On the ceiling of the same chapel are the “Eight Virtues.” In the museum of Berlin is an altarpiece by Taddeo, the “Virgin and Child,” and some other subjects, dated 1334; in the Naples gallery, a triptych, dated 1336, of the “Virgin enthroned along with Four Saints,” the “Baptism of Jesus,” and his “Deposition from the Cross”; in the sacristy of S. Pietro a Megognano, near Poggibonsi, an altarpiece dated 1355, the “Virgin and Child enthroned amid Angels.” A series of paintings, partly from the life of St Francis, which Taddeo executed for the presses in S. Croce, are now divided between the Florentine Academy and the Berlin Museum; the compositions are taken from or founded on Giotto, to whom, indeed, the Berlin authorities have ascribed their examples. Taddeo also painted some frescoes still extant in Pisa, besides many in S. Croce and other Florentine buildings, which have perished. He deservedly ranks as one of the most eminent successors of Giotto; it may be said that he continued working up the material furnished by that great painter, with comparatively feeble inspiration of his own. His figures are vehement in action, long and slender in form; his execution rapid and somewhat conventional. To Taddeo are generally ascribed the celebrated frescoes—those of the ceiling and left or western wall—in the Cappella degli Spagnuoli, in the church of S. Maria Novella, Florence; this is, however, open to considerable doubt, although it may perhaps be conceded that the designs for the ceiling were furnished by Taddeo. Dubious also are the three pictures ascribed to him in the National Gallery, London. In mosaic he has left some work in the baptistery of Florence. As an architect he supplied in 1336 the plans for the present Ponte Vecchio, and those for the original (not the present) Ponte S. Trinita; in 1337 he was engaged on the church of Or San Michele; and he carried on after Giotto’s death the work of the unrivalled Campanile.

3. Agnolo Gaddi, born in Florence, was the son of Taddeo; the date of his birth has been given as 1326, but possibly 1350 is nearer the mark. He was a painter and mosaicist, trained by his father, and a merchant as well; in middle age he settled down to commercial life in Venice, and he added greatly to the family wealth. He died in Florence in October 1396. His paintings show much early promise, hardly sustained as he advanced in life. One of the earliest, at S. Jacopo tra’ Fossi, Florence, represents the “Resurrection of Lazarus.” Another probably youthful performance is the series of frescoes of the Pieve di Prato—legends of the Virgin and of her Sacred Girdle, bestowed upon St Thomas, and brought to Prato in the 11th century by Michele dei Dagomari; the “Marriage of Mary” is one of the best of this series, the later compositions in which have suffered much by renewals. In S. Croce he painted, in eight frescoes, the legend of the Cross, beginning with the archangel Michael giving Seth a branch from the tree of knowledge, and ending with the emperor Heraclius carrying the Cross as he enters Jerusalem; in this picture is a portrait of the painter himself. Agnolo composed his subjects better than Taddeo; he had more dignity and individuality in the figures, and was a clear and bold colourist; the general effect is laudably decorative, but the drawing is poor, and the works show best from a distance. Various other productions of this master exist, and many have perished. Cennino Cennini, the author of the celebrated treatise on painting, was one of his pupils.

4. Giovanni Gaddi, brother of Agnolo, was also a painter of promise. He died young in 1383.

Vasari, and Crowe and Cavelcaselle can be consulted as to the Gaddi. Other notices appear here and there—such as La Cappella de’ Rinuccini in S. Croce di Firenze, by G. Ajazzi (1845).  (W. M. R.)