DESIDERIO DA SETTIGNANO
(b. ca. 1428, Settignano, d. 1464, Firenze)
Tomb of Carlo Marsuppini1453-64
White and coloured marbles, height 613 cm
Santa Croce, Florence
The tomb of Carlo Marsuppini is placed in the nave of Santa Croce, across from Bernardo Rossellino's tomb of Leonardo Bruni. Bruni was Marsuppini's predecessor as Chancellor and both men were noted humanists.
Desiderio's tomb deliberately echoes that of Rossellino in both design and ornament. Both tombs are framed by an arch and have the effigy of the dead man placed on an elaborate bier over an inscribed sarcophagus, both have a relief of the Virgin and Child in a lunette above the effigy and youthful angels carrying garlands above the gable. The effigy of Marsuppini is more steeply tilted on the bier, making the portrait more visible, and the free-standing, shield-bearing putti who flank the base of the arch are not present in the Bruni tomb; they act as intermediaries between the observers' space and that of the monument, as do the youths with their striding poses on the entablature, whose garlands fall outside the confines of the architectural framework. Similarly, in the tondo of the Virgin and Child, the haloes and drapery break beyond the carved frame. Desiderio used softer forms in the sphinxes at the base and in the acanthus leaf that serves as a keystone of the arch.
Compared with the Bruni tomb, decoration takes precedence over architectural structure.