ANDREA DEL CASTAGNO
(b. 1423, Castagno, d. 1457, Firenze)
St Julian and the Redeemerc. 1453
Santissima Annunziata, Florence
Probably in 1453, Andrea moved to the church of Santissima Annunziata, where he painted two frescoes (St Julian and the Redeemer; The Holy Trinity, St Jerome and Two Saints) that are typical of his late style. No longer interested in the heroic and monumental characteristics illustrated in the Legnaia cycle, Andrea here imbues his figures with the crude truth that he had gradually mastered over a lifetime of hard work.
The St Julian in the Cagliani family chapel in Santissima Annunziata is damaged in its lower section. The figure of the saint is no longer the sophisticated gentleman we saw in the Berlin Madonna: he is simply a young man who is sincerely contrite for the harm he has caused. Above his hair, rendered with golden highlights, the metallic halo realistically reflects the saint's head. Above Julian, partly concealed by pinkish clouds, Christ imparts his blessing. On either side of the saint, in the midst of a lovely Tuscan landscape, Andrea has illustrated some episodes from his life.