MASO DI BARTOLOMMEO
(b. 1406, Capannole, d. ca. 1456, Dalmatia)
Italian sculptor, one of the most respected bronze casters of his day. He was an indispensable collaborator on complex architectural projects. He is first recorded working with Donatello and Michelozzo between 1434 and 1438 on the installation and decorative relief-carving of the external pulpit of Prato Cathedral. From 1438 to 1442 he executed part of the bronze grille of the Cappella del Sacro Cingolo in the cathedral, until a dispute halted his work. It is gothicizing in style, with a pattern of delicate rosettes and elegantly twisted stems of naturalistic plant forms interspersed with animals and putti. In 1447 Maso made a gilded bronze reliquary inlaid with bone and tortoiseshell for the same chapel. It is decorated with a frieze of leaden putti dancing clumsily behind a colonnade and is ultimately derived from Donatello's Cantoria made for Florence Cathedral (Florence, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo).
Maso's capabilities as a sculptor are best judged from the brass eagles he created for the tabernacle designed by Michelozzo in San Miniato al Monte (1449). This was but one of several projects that brought Michelozzo and Maso together with Luca della Robbia; of these, the most important one was their collaboration on the bronze doors of the Sacrestia delle Messe of Florence Cathedral.