FOGGINI, Giambattista
(b. 1652, Firenze, d. 1725, Firenze)

Battle of Anghiari

Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence

The vogue for marble reliefs made itself felt in Florence in the 1670s, with the work of Giambattista Foggini in the Corsini Chapel of Santa Maria del Carmine. The chapel was erected by the noblemen Bartolomeo and Neri Corsini in honour of their collateral ancestor, Andrea Corsini, who had died in 1374 and been canonized in 1629. Neri Corsini was a career churchman and a protegé of Alexander VII, who had made him a cardinal in 1664. Thus the chapel was conceived to celebrate the strong connection of the Corsini with Rome, and the patrons found the perfect exponent of the High Baroque style in Foggini.

Foggini's approach to narrative was influenced by examples of Cortona and Algardi. These influences emerge in the Corsini Chapel, which was initially to have only one relief, St Andrea in Glory, above the altar. Foggini's success there led to the decision to complete the decoration of the lateral walls with further reliefs rather than paintings. Their subject matter, the First Mass of St Andrea and the Battle of Anghiari, gave scope for pictorial effects probably intended to recall the 'paragone'. Both the lateral panels of the Corsini Chapel take Algardi's Meeting of St Leo the Great and Attila as their touchstone; in the Battle of Anghiari, there are references to Cortona's battle scenes as well. The Florentine troops are massed in low relief on the right, much like Attila's soldiers, while St Andrea looms above them wielding a metal sword, like Algardi's apostles.. The levels of relief become more complicated on our left where the Milanese cavalry and foot soldiers pile into a terrorized heap, threatening to spill into our space.

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