ASPETTI, Tiziano
(b. ca. 1559, Padova, d. 1606, Pisa)

Martyrdom of St Lawrence

Santa Trinita, Florence

The story of the Venetian High Renaissance relief is brought to a close by two makers of bronze statuettes, Tiziano Aspetti and Niccolò Roccatagliata. Aspetti produced three reliefs, two in the Cathedral at Padua and one in Santa Trinita, Florence. Unlike the tribune reliefs of Sansovino, reliefs in Padua do not employ a consistent relief style, but are conceived as groups of statuettes attached to a flat ground. The treatment of the intermediate planes is lifeless, and even the figures in the round are stamped with a fatal flaccidity.

The relief depicting the Martyrdom of St Lawrence is the altar frontal in the Usimbardi Chapel in Santa Trinita. It shows a more profound sensibility than the reliefs in Il Santo. It is less theatrical and even more pictorial; light flickers over its whole surface, which seems to vibrate dynamically. At the centre of the composition is the appropriately Counter-Reformatory steadfastness of the martyr: as he is being laid on the grill, Lawrence looks up diagonally to heaven, where angels appear to award him the martyr's palm. Aspetti's figural style and types are much more muscular and robust than in earlier work, as is especially apparent in the superbly modelled crouching figures in the front. The artist's greater mastery of the nude is also obvious.

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