DALLE MASEGNE, Jacobello
(d. 1409, active in Emilia)

Biography

Dalle Masegne, Italian family of sculptors and architects. Jacobello dalle Masegne (active from 1383; d. after 1409) and his brother Pierpaolo dalle Masegne (active from 1383; d. ca. 1403) were the sons of Antonio dalle Masegne, a stonemason in Venice. They usually undertook and signed their major commissions together, as was the common practice in Venice for family partnerships. However, although there is no documentary evidence to prove it, it is possible to recognize their individual styles in separate sections of their collaborative works.

The Masegne brothers were in Mantua in 1383 when Francesco I Gonzaga recommended that the brothers should be imprisoned for molesting a woman. On 3 August 1386 Pierpaolo was accused of adultery in Bologna. He was then living in the house of the scholar Giovanni da Legnano, who had died in 1383 and whose tomb (Museo Civico Medievale, Bologna), originally in San Domenico, Bologna, was signed by both brothers.

In November 1388 Jacobello and Pierpaolo jointly signed a contract to construct the high altar at San Francesco, Bologna (finished 1392; in situ). Jacobello's role in its execution is difficult to define, partly because it has been heavily restored, but it may have been marginal; the predominant style is that of Pierpaolo.

The brothers were both in Bologna again in 1392; but they may both have been in Venice before the work on San Francesco was completed. Both brothers signed the central section of the iconostasis (choir screen) in San Marco, Venice, in 1394, which would suggest that they must have begun this large project c. 1392–93.

In October 1395 Jacobello was commissioned by Francesco I Gonzaga to erect the façade (destroyed) of Mantua Cathedral. It was finished by 1403, but payments continued until 1409. The original appearance of the façade is known from Domenico Morone's painting of the Expulsion of the Bonacolsi (Palazzo Ducale, Mantua). It was built of red brick in the Venetian Gothic style, the central section was faced in marble, and its gable was surmounted by five aediculae, each holding a statue.

Before May 1399 Jacobello signed an initial agreement with Francesco Gonzaga to carve the tomb for his second wife, Margherita Malatesta (d. February 1399), for San Francesco, Mantua, but on 5 April 1400 the contract for the tomb was signed by Pierpaolo. Only the effigy of Margherita survives (Palazzo Ducale, Mantua).

In the later 1390s the Masegne brothers seem to have signed several contracts independently, although they may have executed the work jointly. In October 1400 Pierpaolo signed a contract to decorate the large window in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Doge's Palace, Venice. In 1403 he made a will when he was ill and probably died soon after. Jacobello was mentioned in Bologna in 1409 when he was claiming outstanding payments for the high altar of San Francesco. The carving of the gaunt face and tightly clasped hand of the marble statue of the kneeling Doge Antonio Venier (c. 1394; Museo Correr, Venice) is also characteristic of Jacobello.



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