(active 1419-1435)


Italian sculptor. He was the son of a Fra Bartolo. From 1419 to 1424 he worked on various figures for the façade and campanile of Florence Cathedral. In July 1419, with Pietro Uberti Baldassarre degli Albizzi as his guarantor, he was commissioned to sculpt a figure for the cathedral façade, which was completed in March 1420. Its subject is not stated, but it may perhaps be identified as the St John the Baptist (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence). On 30 April 1420 Nanni was asked to complete a statue of Joshua begun by Bernardo Ciuffagni in 1415 for the east side of the campanile. The identity of this figure is uncertain.

It has been suggested that Nanni was trained in the workshop of Niccolò di Pietro Lamberti, who, with Antonio di Banco and his son Nanni, completed the Porta della Mandorla on the north side of Florence Cathedral. Some of the reliefs in the frieze to the left of the door were attributed to Nanni, but they have also been attributed to Nanni di Banco or Jacopo della Quercia. The attribution to Nanni of two small prophets (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence), originally on pinnacles flanking the door of the campanile, has also been questioned. A group of terracotta sculptures, stylistically dependent on Ghiberti, has also been attributed to Nanni. It includes a standing Virgin and Child (Bode Museum, Berlin) and a half-length Virgin and Child (Staatliche Museen, Berlin) and can probably be dated between 1415 and 1420.

In 1421–2 Nanni collaborated with Donatello on the group of Abraham and Isaac (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence) for the east side of the campanile. Donatello's strong artistic personality inspired a change in Nanni's style, which is visible in his only signed Florentine work, the Obadiah (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence), originally on the west side of the campanile. The youthful prophet is well characterized, and his movement graceful and balanced, but the figure lacks Donatello's dramatic power.

Another group of terracotta and stucco figures attributed to Nanni combines features taken from Ghiberti with the rhythmic quality of Donatello's early works. This includes the Virgin and Child (Cenacolo di Ognissanti, Florence), originally in San Miniato, Florence, the beautiful Virgin and Child Enthroned (Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld) and five stucco versions of the Virgin and Child (e.g. Museo Stibbert, Florence), presumably made from the same prototype.

Nanni's only certain work in north Italy is the signed Brenzoni monument (c. 1426) in San Fermo, Verona. Several works in Venice are attributed to Nanni; among the most probable attributions are the four statues on the left of the façade of Santa Maria dell'Orto and the large group depicting the Judgement of Solomon above the capital of Justice on the exterior of the Doge's Palace.

Nanni di Bartolo was in the Veneto again in 1435, as is shown by the inscription over the portal of San Niccolò at Tolentino, in the Marches, erected by him. The relief of the Baptism in the lunette above the tomb of the Blessed Pacifico (1437; Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice) has also been attributed to him).

Nanni's date of death is uncertain.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.