ANDREA DEL CASTAGNO
(b. 1423, Castagno, d. 1457, Firenze)
Monument to Niccolò da Tolentino1456
Not long after the SS. Annunziata comission, the Opera del Duomo commissioned the monument to the commander Niccolò da Tolentino, which Andrea completed in March 1456. For this painting Castagno had to revert to the monumental and heroic model he had used in the Legnaia cycle. His description of the tense muscles of the horse and the general's furrowed face are very acute naturalistic observations that break the rigidity of that model.
A comparison of Andrea's Tolentino with Paolo Uccello's Sir John Hawkwood, painted in the same cathedral several years earlier (1436), is inevitable. While Uccello froze the horse and its rider into a static composition of rigid geometric precision, Andrea expressed through the tension and movement of this fresco all the restlessness and vitality of his spirit.
The Monument to Niccolò da Tolentino in Florence Cathedral is the last work by Castagno that still survives; in 1457 he frescoed a Last Supper for the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli, but it has not come down to us.