GIOVANNI DA MILANO
(active 1350-69, Milano, Firenze)

Biography

Italian painter, originally Giovanni di Jacopo di Guido da Caversaccio. He came from Lombardy and is first recorded in Florence on 17 October 1346, listed as Johannes Jacobi de Commo among the foreign painters living in Florence. There follows a gap of at least 12 undocumented years until his inscription as Johannes Jacobi Guidonis de Mediolano with the Arte dei Medici e Speziali between 1358 and 1363. A tax return dated 26 December 1363 declares his ownership of land in Ripoli, Tizzana (nr Prato) and a house in the parish of S Pier Maggiore, Florence. A document from 1365 reveals a contract with him for painting the frescoes in the Rinuccini Chapel in Santa Croce, Florence. In 1369, he is documented in Rome working on a commission from Pope Urban V to decorate two chapels in the Vatican Palace that are no longer extant. This is the last time that he is mentioned in documents.

His earliest surviving work is thought to be the tympanum fresco, dated about 1350, depicting the Madonna with Child between saints, now in the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Mendrisio, but formerly in the church of the Ospedale di San Giovanni. Apart from this work, which cannot be attributed to him with certainty, and the frescoes of the Rinuccini Chapel, his surviving work consists entirely of altarpieces whose locations were churches and monasteries in Tuscan towns. His earliest signed work, a polyptych in the Pinacoteca at Prato, was commissioned by 1363. This was followed by a Pietŕ dated 1365, now in the Accademia, Florence.

Giovanni's art originates in Lombard painting and the artistic milieu of Milan in the 1330s and 1340s, which was influenced by Florentine painters, especially Giotto and his successors. He clearly shows formative influences from Sienese painting as well, especially the work of Simone Martini. His mature style is associated with a linear grace. He had a strong influence on Lombard painting after 1360, as demonstrated by frescoes in Lombardy. This suggests that he had been active previously not only in Tuscany but also in northern Italy.