DOMENICO VENEZIANO
(b. ca. 1410, Venezia ?, d. 1461, Firenze ?)

St John the Baptist and St Francis

1454
Detached fresco, 190 x 115 cm
Museo dell'Opera di Santa Croce, Florence

The evolution of Domenico Veneziano's style after the Magnoli Altarpiece is evident in the Santa Croce fresco, Saints John the Baptist and Francis, the artist's last known painting. Originally in the Cavalcanti Chapel, next to the choir in the church of Santa Croce, the fresco was removed from the wall in 1566, when the choir was torn down as part of the modernization project directed by Vasari. In 1954, for the exhibition called Four Masters of the Early Renaissance, the two saints were detached once again and placed in the museum of Santa Croce, where they still are today.

The two full-length figures are shown under a trompe l'oeil barrel vault; they are very similar, both in form and in the pale colour tones, to the figures of John and Francis in the Magnoli Altarpiece, except that they are much more solidly modelled and the drawing is stronger, elements that most art historians attribute to the influence of Castagno's painting. And Vasari had actually attributed the fresco to Andrea. This change in Domenico's later works can probably be interpreted as an attempt to incorporate all the more recent developments in Florentine painting, which was at the time moving towards the linearism of Filippo Lippi and Andrea del Castagno. The Santa Croce saints are therefore to be seen as an example of how the artist succeeded in interpreting the influence of contemporary art, further evidence of the consistency of his stylistic development.




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