(b. 1409, Settignano, d. 1464, Firenze)

Tomb of Leonardo Bruni

Marble, height 610 cm
Santa Croce, Florence

A major commission, in which the Signoria of Florence may have been involved, was for the the tomb of Leonardo Bruni (1446–48; Santa Croce, Florence), the humanist chancellor and historian of Florence. Bruni was awarded a state funeral, and elements of the tomb recall the elaborate classical ceremony in Santa Croce, which was described by Vespasiano da Bisticci. This was the first and definitive example of the humanist tomb, and its conception may reflect the ideas of Leon Battista Alberti.

The effigy of Bruno, crowned in laurel, is shown on a draped funeral bier, his history of Florence in his hands; on the austere sarcophagus beneath, winged angels support a Latin inscription. The effigy and sarcophagus are framed by the clear lines of a classical triumphal arch, and the elements of the tomb are built up in simple geometric forms, rising from the coloured base. Above, the Virgin and Child in a tondo intercede for Bruni's soul. Numerous assistants participated in the execution, most obviously in the two angels in the lunette, which seem to have been carved by two different assistants. The high quality of the portrait of Bruni, and of the Virgin and Child, and the precise rendering of the brocade of cloth reflect the participation of Bernardo.

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