MAZONE, Giovanni
(active 1453-1512 in Liguria)


Italian painter and wood-carver. Though originally from Alessandria, he was released from the bonds of patria potestà in Genoa in 1453 by his father, Giacomo Mazone (active 1434-1453), who was also a painter. Giovanni's first recorded commission dates from 1463, when he was engaged to make a relief-carving on an altar (untraced) for the chapel of San Giovanni Battista in Genoa Cathedral. Wood-carving, mentioned again in 1476 in a contract for the renovation of the main altar of Genoa Cathedral, constantly occupied his workshop, which specialized in polyptych frames.

Mazone's earliest activity was centred on the now dispersed polyptych depicting the Apotheosis of St Nicholas of Tolentino (1466; Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan; Kunsthaus, Zurich, private collections). The panels are Mediterranean in character with their profusion of tooled gold and decorative relief work. The Late Gothic style is attenuated in the rendering of the flesh, where there is a greater sense of volume. This reflects the influence of the first visit to Liguria (1461) of Vincenzo Foppa, who was specified as a model in Mazone's contract of 1463.

His Annunciation polyptych, now held at Santa Maria di Castello shows Netherlandish influences, particularly in the rendering of the central panel. Jan van Eyck's portable altarpiece, the Dresden Triptych, was in Liguria in Italy by the end of the 15th century, and apparently influenced Mazone's style.

Another polyptych, Virgin and Child Enthroned with the Four Evangelists, shows a number of influences, including Netherlandish and Provençal. Documented workshop assistants from that period probably brought additional stylistic elements to the piece. His single signed and dated work, Noli me tangere was probably produced at about the same period as his triptych of the Nativity.

From the 1480s, his ability with perspective grew, when under Foppa's influence he painted Virgin and Child Enthroned and St Mark with Four Saints. His 1489 Nativity, painted for the Sistine Chapel shows a complete break with Netherlandish influences and a movement toward a Paduan style. This piece was commissioned by Giuliano della Rovere, who went on to become Pope Julius II.

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