AMADEO, Giovanni Antonio
(b. ca. 1447, Pavia, d. 1522, Milano)

Façade of the Cappella Colleoni

Piazza del Duomo, Bergamo

The Colleoni Chapel is a Renaissance adjunct to a Gothic church. Its flat façade is framed by tall pilasters decorated with reliefs of saints and emperor heads, and is broken by an elaborate central doorway with a deeply recessed window over it, by two lateral windows, and by niches filled with busts. Such parts of the wall surface as are free of sculpture are encrusted with marble inlay in the form of cubes. Across the façade runs an open gallery, and over this again is a row of decorative niches which support a cupola.

The design of the Colleoni Chapel is dependent both on the Portinari Chapel in Sant'Eustorgio, Milan, and, more particularly, on Antonio Filarete's design for Bergamo Cathedral, from which Amadeo took the form of the cupola and the delight in using multicoloured stone surfaces. The chequerboard pattern of the façade is antique in origin, and Amadeo included for the first time on a large scale in Lombardy numerous quotations from antique coins to provide the decoration for the tondi and lozenges, a technique he used again on a grand scale at the Certosa di Pavia.

The effect of the building is made through the richness of its decoration and the brilliance of its polychromy.