CENNI di Francesco di Ser Cenni
(active 1369-1415 in Florence)
Italian painter. He was registered in the Arte dei Medici e Speziali, Florence, in March 1369. His only signed work is the fresco of 1410 in the chapel of the oratory of the Croce di Giorno attached to S Francesco, Volterra. However, dated works attributed to him suggest that his oeuvre was quite large and that stylistically he was of an eclectic nature.
His early style is derived from that of the circle of the Orcagna; the signed and dated triptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints in the church of S Cristofano a Perticaia at Rignano sull'Arno (1370; in situ) shows, in its colouring and treatment of drapery, the influence of Nardo di Cione. Cenni distanced himself from his early Orcagnesque conception of form c. 1385-90 and, it has been suggested, may have had some connection with Giovanni del Biondo. The use of perspective to create depth in his compositions and his strong sense of narrative are apparent in such works as his fresco of the Adoration of the Magi (1383; Florence, S Donato in Polverosa). Here, Cenni's taste for anecdote is evident, and the clothes of the attendant figures, painted with great attention to detail, are modelled on contemporary fashions. A sense of distance is created for the background scene of the Annunciation to the Shepherds by the use of monochromatic colours, a device he also employed at Volterra. The proportions of the figures are elongated and their features fine and elegant, and the drapery is boldly outlined.
Cenni's gothicizing concept of form, his lively sense of colour and anecdotal qualities may be derived from manuscript illuminations. He worked as a manuscript illuminator and examples of his work are found among the products of the school of illuminators at the Camaldolese monastery of S Maria degli Angeli, Florence. From 1390 to 1393 Cenni lived in the quarter of S Giovanni in Florence. In the 1390s he was influenced by the Giottesque revival. The simplification of form is evident in the fresco Virgin and Child with Saints (1393; San Miniato, Palazzo Comunale); its well-balanced proportions are similar to those in the works of Taddeo Gaddi. The statuesque pose of the Virgin and the plasticity of the drapery are emphasized by uninterrupted heavy outlines.