Florentine School

In the 13th century artists in Pisa and Lucca played an important part in the initial stage of Tuscan paintings and foreshadowed early Florentine artists. Crucifixes and icons, although still Byzantine in style, became more 'Western' in treatment. The work of Giunta Pisano in Pisa and the Berlinghieri family in Lucca illustrates this transitional phase. In Florence Cimabue was the most important artist before Giotto. He was trained in the Byzantine tradition in the workshops of the baptistery.

The true founder of the Florentine school was Giotto. His ability to render three-dimensional form and space, the simplicity of his compositions and his effective portrayal of human emotions make his works the first modern paintings. His impact on Florentine painters was enormous, resulting in a sort of Giottesque academicism. Artists influenced by him were: Taddeo and Agnolo Gaddi, Bernardo Daddi, Maso di Banco, Giottino and Nardo di Cione. Giotto's influence is also noticeable in the work of Andrea Orcagna, Andrea da Firenze, and Spinello Aretino.

In the first quarter of the 15th century Florentine painting experienced the influence of the International Gothic through the Sienese Lorenzo Monaco and Masolino da Panicale who worked in the Brancacci Chapel. In opposition was the austere and heroic style of Masaccio, friend and disciple of Brunelleschi and Donatello. Masaccio's older contemporaries included Uccello and Fra Angelico. Paolo Uccello was famous for his study of perspective, used for non-naturalistic ends. Fra Angelico, a Dominican monk at Fiesolo and S. Marco, Florence, evolved a simple, direct style used for didactic purposes. His qualities of serenity and beauty of colour are shared by Domenico Veneziano and Alesso Baldovinetti. Donatello's influence is strong in the works of Andrea del Castagno. In Fra Filippo Lippi the early influence of Masaccio is superseded by Donatello and Flemish painting. Decorative charm coupled with Flemish portrait realism is intensified in Benozzo Gozzoli and Domenico Ghirlandaio.

The scientific, realistic works of Verrocchio and the Pollaiolo brothers, goldsmiths and sculptors as well as painters, reflect one aspect of Florentine painting in the late 15th century. The other, the Neo-Platonism of Lorenzo de' Medici and his humanist circle is personified in the mythological creations of Sandro Botticelli. His dependence on outline as a means of emotional expression is intensified in his late works, perhaps influenced by Savonarola. Lorenzo di Credi, Filippino Lippi (son of Filippo Lippi) and Piero di Cosimo mark the transition to the Cinquecento.

The principal centres of painting at the time of the classical Renaissance were: Florence, Rome and Venice with its dependants. Florence first saw the genius of the three great masters who gave to the painting of the 16th century its noblest expression: Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo.

Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest of the 'universali uomini' produced by the Renaissance, diffused intellectual powers over such a range of interests that he finished hardly any major enterprise; thousands of notes and and drawings but few completed paintings. 1469-1478 he was pupil and assistant of Verrocchio, Florence; at Milan in 1483-1499 in the service of Lodovico il Moro; 1500-1505 in Florence. 1507-1513 in Milan he was the painter and engineer to Louis XII; 1513-1515 stay in Rome. In 1516 he left for France where he died. His manuscript notebooks and drawings were bequeathed to his pupil Melzi.

Raphael was the pupil of Perugino in Perugia, 1500-1504. In 1504-1508 he was in Florence and executed here some of his masterpieces, now in the Uffizi and Pitti galleries. In 1508 he was in Rome where he painted in the Vatican the frescoes in the Stanze.

Michelangelo was a a pupil of Ghirlandaio in Florence. He executed here the Holy Family tondo and the cartoon for the Battle in Cascina, however, his masterpieces in painting are in Rome: the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and the Paoline Chapel of the Vatican.

The influence of the art of Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo is reflected in the work of Fra Bartolomeo, Albertinelli and Andrea del Sarto.

Mannerism, an essentially subjective and emotional style, resulting partly from the Reformation and the invasions of Italy, led to the abandonment of the serenity of the High Renaissance, the flouting of rational perspective and, under the overwhelming influence of Michelangelo, insistence on the primacy of the human figure, often exaggerated or elongated for emotional or decorative effect. Rosso and Pontormo were the outstanding figures of the first generation. The scholar Vasari and his pupils evolved towards academicism.

Roman Mannerism was brought to Florence by Federico and Taddeo Zuccaro (dome of the cathedral); the influence of the Zuccari lingered. Lodovico Cardi, called Cigoli, was influenced by Barocci and Caravaggio. Carlo Dolci is known for his suave Madonnas.

Tuscany produced only second-rate painters in the 18th century.

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