(b. 1427, Settignano, d. 1479, Firenze)

View of the Chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal

White and coloured marbles, width of chapel 480 cm
San Miniato al Monte, Florence

Antonio Rossellino and his workshop played an important role in the creation of the burial chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal. This elaborate undertaking was the result of the collaboration of an architect (Antonio Manetti), four sculptors (Antonio Rossellino, his brothers Bernardo and Giovanni, and Luca della Robbia), three painters (Alesso Baldovinetti, Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo), their workshops, and other craftsmen as well, and yet the chapel today - which looks exactly as it must have looked in the 1470s - is a stylistically unified totality rather than a demonstration of the diverse talents of a number of individuals.

James (Jaime), a prince of the Portugal royal family who was made a cardinal at twenty-two, died of tuberculosis in Florence when he was only twenty-five. He had expressed a desire to be buried at San Miniato, and immense sums poured in for his funerary chapel.

The chapel was designed by Antonio Manetti, a pupil of Brunelleschi, and the architectural detail was carved by Giovanni Rossellino, third of the five Rossellino brothers. The tomb was designed by Antonio Rossellino, who was helped in the execution by his brother Bernardo, and several assistants. On the altar wall Antonio del Pollaiuolo's frescoed angels pull back curtains that can be related to the curtains that surround Rossellino's tomb on the right wall. The painted altarpiece representing three saints is a work by Antonio del Pollaiuolo (presently a copy, the original being in the Uffizi). On the left wall facing the tomb (not shown in this picture), Alesso Baldovinetti's Annunciation is placed. Baldovinetti decorated also the lunettes and spandrels of the chapel. The inlaid marble floor copies the Cosmati work found in the adjacent church; this pattern is echoed in the composition of Luca della Robbia's enamelled terracotta dome above, which has five medallions representing the Cardinal Virtues and the Descent of the Holy Ghost.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.