MAITANI, Lorenzo
(b. ca. 1255, Siena, d. 1330, Orvieto)


Italian architect and sculptor primarily responsible for the construction and decoration of the façade of Orvieto Cathedral.

Maitani established his reputation in Siena and was called to supervise the construction at Orvieto in 1308 when the unprecedented height and span of the cathedral's vaults and arches presented unforeseen difficulties. In 1310 he received the title capomaestro of the cathedral and became, in addition, overseer of bridges and civic buildings. He is described in the contract as expert in buttressing, making roofs and 'walls figured with beauty'. This reference has led scholars to assume that he executed much of the sculpture on the lower part of the façade, although he is not explicitly described as a sculptor in any of the sources.

The design of the cathedral's west façade has been almost universally attributed to Maitani, and he is credited with having supervised its construction to the level of the gallery below the rose window. Maitani's most important contribution was the design of the cathedral's façade. Though his contributions to the façade as a sculptor are difficult to determine, it may be assumed that his sensibility dictated the overall scheme.

The extent of Maitani's involvement in the creation of the sculpture at the cathedral is disputed. The marble reliefs of Genesis and the Last Judgement on the first and fourth pilasters, the bronze and marble group in the main lunette of the façade, the bronze angels and the Evangelists' Symbols have been seen as stylistically related and have all been attributed to Maitani. Maitani's panels depicting the Genesis and the Last Judgment are delicate bas-reliefs unified by an ascending vine that suggests a French Gothic influence.