GIOVANETTI, Matteo
(b. ca. 1300, Viterbo, d. ca. 1368, Roma)

Biography

Matteo Giovanetti da Viterbo (also Gianetti), Italian painter. His name first appears in papal letters of 1322 and 1328 in relation to his duties as a priest in S Luca in Viterbo, north of Rome. In 1336 Pope Benedict XII (reg 1334-42) appointed him prior of S Martino in Viterbo, and in 1348 he was nominated as archprior of Verceil in Provence. All his surviving work as a painter was done in and around Avignon, the seat of the papacy from 1309 to 1377. He worked on the decoration of the papal palace, both in collaboration with other artists and on his own in the St Martial Chapel. His slightly fussy, calligraphic style reached the height of its expressive freedom in the frescoes for Innocent VI at the Villeneuve-les-Avignon monastery (c. 1355). He also worked in Rome as painter to Urban V.

Although Matteo is frequently described as a follower of the Sienese school - and particularly of Simone Martini, whose last years were spent in Avignon - there is no documentation to confirm this. It is uncertain when Matteo first came to Avignon: in 1343 'Magister Matteo' was one of the painters paid for the decoration of the Tour de la Garde-Robe, the pope's private chambers. In 1346 Matteo is described as 'painter to the pope', and his name appears continuously on papal registers and accounts until 1368.



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