Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.
medieval]
495
SCULPTURE


by P. Juan in 1426 and completed by G. De La Mota. The carved foliage of this period is of especial beauty and spirited execution; realistic forms of plant-growth are mingled with other more conventional foliage in the most masterly manner. The very noble bronze monument of Archdeacon Pelayo (d. 149O) in Burgos cathedral was probably the work of Simon of Cologne, who was also architect of the Certosa at Miraflores, 2 m. from Burgos. The church of this monastery contains two of the most magnificently rich monuments in the world, especially the altar-tomb of King John II. and his queen by Gil de Siloea perfect marvel of rich alabaster canopy-work and intricate under-cutting. The effigies have little merit. From the 16th century onwards wood was a favourite material with Spanish sculptors, who employed it for devotional and historical groups realistically treated, such as the “ Scene from Taking of Granada” by El Maestre Rodrigo, and even for portraiture, as in the Bust of Turiano by Alonzo Berruguete (1480-1561).

During the 14th century Florence and the neighbouring cities were the chief centres of Italian sculpture, and there numerous sculptors of successively increasing artistic 0°';"' power lived and worked, till in the 15th century the

';, ';;;', fe city had become the aesthetic capital of the world.

But the Gothic sculptor's activity was by no means confined to Tuscany, for in northern Italy various schools of sculpture existed in the 14th century, especially at Verona and Venice, whose art differed widely from the contemporary art of Tuscany; but Milan and Pavia, on the other hand, possessed sculptors who followed closely the style of the Pisani. The chief examples of the latter class are the magnificent shrine of St Augustine in the cathedral of Pavia, dated 1362, and the somewhat similar shrine of Peter the Martyr (1339), by Balduccio of Pisa, in the church of S. Eustorgio at Milan, both of white marble, decorated in the most lavish way with statuettes and subject reliefs. Many other line pieces of the Pisan school exist in Milan. The well-known tombs of the Scaliger family at Verona show a more native style of design, and in general form, though not in detail, suggest the influence of trans alpine Gothic. In Venice the northern and almost French character of much of the early 15th-C€I'1ll.1I'y sculpture is more strongly marked, especially in the noble hgures in high relief which decorate the lower story and angles of the doge's palace# these are. mostly the work of a Venetian named Bartolomeo Bon. A magnificent marble tympanum relief by Bon can be seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum; it has a noble colossal figure of the Madonna, who shelters under her mantle a number of kneeling worshippers; the background is enriched with foliage and heads, forming a “ lesse tree, ” designed with great decorative skill. The cathedral of Como, built at the very end of the 15th century, is decorated with good sculpture of almost Gothic style, but on the whole rather dull and mechanical in detail, like much of the sculpture in the extreme north of Italy. A large quantity of rich sculpture was produced in Naples during the 14th century, but of no great merit either in design or in execution. The lofty monument of King Robert (1350), behind the high altar of S. Chiara, and other tombs in the same church are the most conspicuous works of this period. The extraordinary poverty in the production of sculpture in Rome during the 14th century was remarkable. The clumsy .effigies at the north-east of S. Maria in Traste vere are striking examples of the degradation of the plastic art there about the year 1400; and it was not till nearly the middle of the century that the arrival of able Florentine sculptors, such as Filarete, Mino da Fiesole, and the Pollaiuoli, initiated a brilliant era of artistic activity, which, however, for about a century continued to depend on the presence of sculptors from Tuscany and other northern provinces. It was not, in fact, till the period of full decadence had begun that Rome itself produced any notable artists.

In Florence, the centre of artistic activity during the 15th as well as the 14th century, Giotto not only inaugurated the " See Ruskin, Stones of Venice; and Mothes, Gesch. der Bauk. u. Bildh. Venedigs (Leipzig, 1859); also H. v. d. Gabelentz, M ittelaltert. Plasiiie in Venedig (Leipzig, 1902).

modern era of painting, but in his relief sculpture, and more particularly by the influence he exercised upon Andrea Pisano, carried the art of sculpture beyond the point where it had been left by Giovanni Pisano. In Andrea we find something of Niccola's classic dignity grafted on to Giovanni's close observation of nature. His greatest works are the bronze south gate of the Baptistery, and some of the reliefs on Giotto's Campanile. The last great master of the Gothic period is Andrea di Cione, better known as Orcagna (1308? to 1368), who, like Giotto, achieved fame in the three sister arts of painting, sculpture and architecture. His wonderful tabernacle at Or San Michele is a noble testimony to his efficiency in the three arts and to his early training as a goldsmith. Very beautiful sepulchral effigies in low relief were produced in many parts of Italy, especially at Florence. The tomb of Lorenzo Acciaioli, in the Certosa near Florence, is a fine example of about the year 1400, which has absurdly been attributed to Donatello. The similarity between the plastic arts of Athens in the 5th or 4th century B.c. and of Florence in the 1 5th century is not one of analogy only. Though free from any touch of copyism, there are many points in the works of such men as Donatello, Luca della Robbia, and Antonio Pisano which strongly recall the sculpture of ancient Greece, and suggest that, if a sculptor of the later Fhidian school had been surrounded by the same types of face and costume as those among which the Italians lived, he would have produced plastic works closely resembling those of the great Florentine masters. Lorenzo Ghiberti may be called the first of the great sculptors of the Renaissance. But between him and Orcagna stands another master, the Sienese, Tacopo della Quercia 2 (1371-1438) who, although in some minor traits connected with the Gothic school, heralds at this early date the boldest and most vigorous and original achievements of two generations hence. Indeed, jacopo, whose chief works are the Fonte Gaja at Siena (now reconstructed) and the reliefs on the gate of S. Petronio at Bologna, stands in his strong muscular treatment of the human figure nearer to Michelangelo than to his 'Gothic precursors and contemporaries. Contemporaneously with Ghiberti, the sculptor -of the world-famed baptistery gates, and with Donatello", and to a certain extent influenced by them, worked some men who, like Ciuffagni, were still essentially Gothic in their style, or, like Nanni di Banco, retained unmistakable traces of the earlier manner. Luca della Robbia, the founder of a whole dynasty of sculptors in glazed terra-cotta, with his classic purity of style and sweetness of expression, came next in order. Unsensual beauty elevated by religious spirit was attained in the highest degree by Mino da Fiesole, the two Rossellini, Benedetto da Maiano, Desiderio da Settignano and other sculptors more or less directly influenced by Donatello. Through them the tomb monument received the definite formr which it retained throughout the Renaissance period. Two of the noblest equestrian statues the world has probably ever seen are the Gattamelata statue at Padua by Donatello and the statue of Colleoni at Venice by Verrocchio and Leopardi; ~A third, which was probably of equal beauty, was modelled in clay by Leonardo da Vinci, but it no longer exists. Among other sculptors who flourished in Italy about the middle of the 15th century, are the Lucchese Matteo Civitali; Agostino di Duccio (1418-c. 1481), whose principal works are to be found at Rimini and Perugia; the bronze-worker Bertoldo di Giovanni (1420-I4QI); Antonio del Pollaiuolo, the author of the tombs of popes Sixtus IV. and Innocent VIII. at St Peter's in Rome; and Francesco Laurana (1424-r5o1?), a Dalmatian who worked under Brunelleschi and left many traces of his activity in Naples (Triumphal Arch), Sicily and southern France. Finally came Michelangelo, who raised the sculpture of the modern world to its highest pitch of magnificence, and at the same time sowed the seeds of its rapidly approaching decline; the head of his David at Florence is a work of unrivalled force and dignity. His rivals and imitators, Baccio Bandinelli, Giacomo della Porta, Montelupo, Ammanati and Vincenzo de' Rossi (pupils of Bandinelli) and others, copied and exaggerated his faults 2 See Carl Cornelius, Jacopo della Quercia (Halle a. S., 1896). 24