AMADEO, Giovanni Antonio
(b. ca. 1447, Pavia, d. 1522, Milano)


Giovanni Antonio Amadeo (also Omodeo), Italian architect and sculptor. He was principally active in Bergamo, Cremona, Milan and Pavia. His professional success, in terms of the architectural and sculptural commissions and official appointments that he received, was far greater than that of any of his contemporaries in Lombardy in the late 15th century, including Bramante. Amadeo's influence in both fields, for example in his use of all'antica ornament of local origin, was considerable.

In 1466 Amadeo was engaged as a sculptor, with his brother Protasio, at the famous Certosa, near Pavia. He was a follower of the style of Bramantino of Milan, and he represents, like him, the Lombard direction of the Renaissance. He practised cutting deeply into marble, arranging draperies in cartaceous folds, and treating surfaces flatly even when he sculptured figures in high relief. Excepting in these technical points he differed from his associates completely, and so far surpassed them that he may be ranked with the great Tuscan artists of his time, which can be said of hardly any other North-Italian sculptor.

While engaged at the Certosa, he executed the door leading from the church into the cloister. After completing his work in Pavia, he went to Bergamo to design the tomb of Medea, daughter of the famous condottiere Bartholomeo Colleoni, in the Colleoni chapel. During the first half of the 1470s Amadeo executed the tomb of Medea Colleoni (d 1470; not completed until after Bartolomeo Colleoni's death in 1475) for the Dominican sanctuary of Santa Maria at Basella (near Urgnano, Bergamo). Simultaneously he supervised the construction of the Colleoni Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore at Bergamo (where the tomb of Medea Colleoni was moved in 1842) and carved the tomb of the condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni. Amadeo's style by this time had changed radically from that manifested in his earliest works at the Certosa di Pavia. Although in terms of its organization the Colleoni tomb can be related to earlier Lombard monumental sculpture, Amadeo made considerable use of all'antica ornament. The narrative reliefs for which he is presumed to have been responsible retain some similarity to the style of the Certosa lunette, but they are infinitely more sophisticated in composition and execution.

He returned to Pavia in October, 1478. On the death of Guiniforte Solari (1481), Amadeo had been temporarily appointed to succeed him as head architect of the Certosa, and was commissioned to make a fresh design for the façade, with the assistance of Benedetto Briosco and Antonio della Porta. But it was not till 1490, when he was confirmed in his office, that he made the design which was accepted, and which was subsequently carried out by him and his successors.

In 1480 Amadeo was engaged to complete the tomb of the Persian Martyrs for Cremona Cathedral (dispersed in the 19th century). In view of the fragmentary condition of the work, Amadeo's contribution is difficult to assess. From 1482 to 1484 Amadeo worked on another project for Cremona, the tomb of St Arealdo (non-autograph fragments, Cremona Cathedral). During the same period he was paid by the Opera del Duomo authorities for a relief, the marble St Imerio Giving Alms (now mounted in a pier to the right of the presbytery) for the front of the tomb of St Imerio.

About 1490, after an absence of eight or nine years, Amadeo returned to his post at the Certosa. He produced many marble reliefs for the façade of the Certosa, and received the contract for the interior, and also for the duomo of Milan. He was joint architect of the Certosa and of the cathedrals of Pavia and Milan, until he undertook to crown the latter with a cupola in Gothic form, which aroused much opposition and criticism. He then resigned his other offices and took up his residence in Milan, where, assisted by his colleague Dolcebuono, he commenced his work, in 1497, according to the accepted model, and carried it up to the octagon. As its solidity was then questioned by Cristoforo Solari and Andrea Fusina, the directors stopped the work (1503).

Probably in 1498 Amadeo received the commission to execute the tomb of St Lanfranco for San Lanfranco, outside Pavia. In 1508, pressed by his patron, Pietro Pallavacino da Scipione, he promised to finish it as soon as possible. In 1507 he made a model for two tombs for the funerary chapel of the family of Filippo Bottigella, and in the same year he carved a relief sculpture intended for San Fedele, Milan.

After his defeat he left Milan, with his brother Andrea, and resided at Venice for several years, during which he produced a St George for a chapel in the church of Santa Maria della Carità, also a statue of Eve.