( Originally Published 1915 )
Taddeo Gaddi. 1300?—1366.
Agnolo Gaddi. 1303?—1396.
Giovanni da Milano. fl. 1366.
The pupils and followers of Giotto, none of whom rose to great excellence or originality in art, except Orcagna, are spoken of as a group under the name of the Giotteschi. There is much of uncertainty concerning their work and even regarding their names, while their dates vary with every authority. This need not greatly disturb us; their lives and their work come within the fourteenth century, and whether studied under one name or another may collectively give us a very clear impression of the interests and ideas of the time, and of the strength of the Giotto tradition. The Bible stories are told and retold, with lessening reality but more feeling for prettiness.
Two great series of pictures by unknown artists, those in the Campo Santo of Pisa and in the Spanish Chapel in Florence, show us best of all the intellectual and artistic ideas of the period.
TOPICS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH.
The great building epoch of Florence. Oliphant, Makers of Florence, ch. 4.
The Dominican Order and its chief exponent, Thomas Aquinas. Herkless.
Mediaeval conceptions of Heaven and Hell. Symonds, Fine Arts, 197-204.
NOTES ON THE PICTURES.
Nos. 78-80. Scenes from the Life of the Virgin.
Baroncelli Chapel, S. Croce, Florence.
Taddeo Gaddi was for many years a pupil and assistant of Giotto. This work in the Baroncelli Chapel was done about the time of Giotto's death. It is instructive to compare these scenes with the same stories told by Giotto. Compare point by point the two pictures of the Presentation of the Virgin. Notice the elaboration of details, the loss of simplicity of composition, the repetition of some of Giotto's characteristic gestures, but the lack of vivid reality and sincerity.
No. 81. Christ appearing to Mary Magdalen.
Rinuccini Chapel, S. Croce, Florence.
This chapel, connected with the sacristy, was decorated in 1365 by Giovanni da Milano with the familiar scenes from the life of the Virgin and Mary Magdalen. There is more feeling for beauty than in the work of Taddeo Gaddi.
Found with other frescos in the crypt of the Spanish Chapel. Giottino, whose real name was probably Maso di Banco, also painted in S. Croce a series of frescos of the miracles of St. Sylvester.
There are many points of resemblance between this picture and the Crucifixion by Giotto (No. 67), but the entire unconsciousness of an audience in the latter contrasts strongly with the " stage effect " of Giottino's representation.
Nos. 83-85. Paradise.
Strozzi Chapel, S. Maria Novella, Florence.
This chapel was decorated by Orcagna (Andrea di Cione) about 1354. On the altar wall is pictured the Last Judgment, the figures being skilfully placed above and on either side of the narrow lancet windows. The Paradise fills the wall on the right of the Divine Judge. Christ and the Virgin sit enthroned, with saints and prophets on either side. The left wall is occupied by the scenes of Hell studied from Dante's Inferno, much repainted and probably not by Andrea but by his brother Nardo.
A study of this picture shows Orcagna to be far in advance of other painters of his period. There is great dignity and beauty in all the figures, and the draperies are excellent. The arrangement of figures suggests some inherent difficulties in the theme, and a hampering tradition, as well as the limitations in technical ability of the period. The problem of handling as a unit a high wall space is one that the Italian artists avoided by dividing it into rectangles and painting in each a separate scene, continuing the narrative from one to the other, often sacrificing the decoration for the story. This is an especially interesting problem to keep in mind through all our art study.
Nos. 404-407. Tabernacle and Reliefs.
Or San Michele, Florence.
In 1355 Orcagna was commissioned by the Brother-hood of Or San Michele to build a costly tabernacle for their wonder-working Madonna, to whom many offerings had been brought during the outbreak of the plague in 1348. The shrine is of white marble, elaborately carved, inlaid with colored and gilded glass in Cosmati work. Eight bas-reliefs, scenes from the Virgin's life, are arranged about the base, with figures of the Virtues at the corners. A single large panel, 407, fills the back. The painting now enclosed in this costly frame is not the original miraculous one, but was perhaps painted by Bernardo Daddi (1348). The tabernacle was completed in 1359.
Notice the architectural features, Romanesque and Gothic; the effectiveness of the decoration; the grace of the sculptured figures; the simplicity and sentiment of 406, an unusual theme in art. The large panel 407, is monumental in character, but the mosaic background of the upper portion is confusing, as are the crowded figures of the lower portion.
THE SPANISH CHAPEL.
S. Maria Novella, built in 1272, is the great Dominican church of Florence, as S. Croce is that of the Franciscans. The chapter house, now known as the Spanish Chapel, opening from the cloister court, was built 1320-1350, and decorated soon after. Vasari attributes the work to Taddeo Gaddi and Simone Martini. The majority of critics incline now to ascribe the work on the four walls to Andrea da Firenze, who, in 1377, was painting in the Campo Santo, Pisa. The painting of the ceiling was perhaps by the hand of Antonio Veneziano, active 1370-1387. While none of the work is of the highest rank, the chapel is most interesting, both for the completeness of its decoration and as showing the intellectual and æsthetic taste of the period. Mr. Ruskin's " Mornings in Florence," IV and V, are enthusiastic descriptions of the place.
No. 103. Christ bearing the Cross. Detail from left-hand side of altar wall.
No. 104. Descent of Christ into Limbo. Detail from right-hand side of altar wall.
No. 105. Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas.
No. 106. Virtues and Sciences: detail of 105.
This fresco occupies the left wall of the chapel and is in-tended to glorify the intellectual element of Christianity. St. Thomas Aquinas, who had lately been canonized, sits enthroned, beneath his feet the three arch-heretics; on either side are saints and prophets, and above hover the seven Virtues. The long row of female figures on Gothic thrones symbolize the Sciences and Virtues, and at the feet of each sits the historic character famous in that department of knowledge. Thus in 106 we have, from left to right, traditionally, Hope and John of Damascus, Charity and St. Augustine, Arithmetic and Pythagoras, Geometry and Euclid, Astronomy and Ptolemy. Some of the figures, notably that of Charity, have been injured by repainting.
No. 107. The Church Militant and Triumphant.
No. 108. Group of Portraits: detail of 107.
We have here the activities of the Church. The Cathedral of Florence, at this time not completed, stands as the symbol of the Church on earth; before it are seated the Pope and the Emperor. The " Flock of God" are guarded by the black and white dogs, the Domini Canes, a play on the name and garb of the Dominican Order. St. Dominic preaches to the people and (a little higher on the right) converts those given up to worldly pleasure and points the way to heaven, at whose gate stands St. Peter. Above, Christ in glory is surrounded by the heavenly host.
Compare these two different principles of wall deco-ration, contrasting with work by Giotto and the Paradise of Orcagna. Notice especially the decorative quality in the Triumph of Thomas Aquinas, and the beauty of the women's faces in 106. Compare with Orcagna. Analyze the difficulties inherent in the method adopted in 107; its greater contemporary interest; the permanent value of these frescos in subject, in aesthetic quality.
EARLY SIENESE PAINTERS.
"Duccio is the last of the great artists of antiquity in contrast to Giotto, who was the first of the moderns." Berenson.
Guido da Siena, fl. 1281, is little more than a name, except as the controversy over the date of his principal picture, 1221 or 1281, would place him before or after Cimabue.
Duccio da Buoninsegna, 1260?-1339?, was the real founder of Sienese painting. His early work is so truly Byzantine it is suggested that he may have studied under some unusually skilled Eastern artist, possibly even in Constantinople itself. His reputation rests almost entirely on the excellence of his great altarpiece painted for the cathedral.
Simone Martini, 1283-1344, ablest of the pupils of Duccio, established the decorative traditions of Sienese art, which continued for nearly two centuries. In 1315 he painted in the Palazzo Pubblico a Madonna with Saints under a richly decorated canopy, full of beautiful detail but crowded and confused. He painted in the Lower Church at Assisi a Madonna and various saints. In 1339 he went to the Papal court at Avignon, where he became the friend of Petrarch, and where he died.
Pietro Lorenzetti, fl. 1305-1348, and his brother Ambrogio, fl. 1323-1348, are remembered chiefly for their great wall paintings. A number of panels in the Academy of Siena by Ambrogio possess both beauty and dignity. He is better known by the great allegories of Good and Bad Government on the walls of the Palazzo Pubblico.
Lippo Memmi, d. 1356, was brother-in-law and assist-ant to Simone Martini, and their names have been confused and entangled by early historians, the paintings in the Spanish Chapel having been attributed to Simone Memmi. Both were miniature painters.
Giacomo di Mino del Pellicciaio, fi. 1362-1389.
Sano di Pietro, 1406-1481, pupil of Taddeo di Bartolo, left many altarpieces, all bright with color and gold. Seen through the " dim religious light " they must always perform their chief office of drawing the beholder, religious or otherwise, to the place of worship. He lacks, however, the thought and spirituality of Fra Angelico, to whom he is sometimes likened.
Matteo di Giovanni, 1435?-1495, still paints at the end of the fifteenth century, when Raphael and Michelangelo have begun their work, with the same mannerisms and the same sentiment that characterized the painters from whom Duccio learned his art.
Sienese art is greatly to be enjoyed in the fine old city which gave it birth, but it does not carry us on into the great stream of world influence known as the Renaissance.
The place of allegory in art. Hope Rea, ch. 7. The Campo Santo of Pisa. Ross, ch. 8. Petrarch, poet and humanist. Symonds, Revival of Learning, 69-87.
NOTES ON THE PICTURES.
No. 86. Madonna and Child.
Palazzo Pubblico, Siena.
Painted by Guido in 1281 for S. Domenico, Siena. It has been much repainted, with the exception of the six angels in the corners. A comparison of these with the angels by Cimabue shows them to be much more Byzantine in style.
No. 87. Madonna Enthroned, with Saints and Angels.
No. 88. Christ in Gethsemane.
No:89. Entrance into Jerusalem.
Cathedral Museum, Siena.
This is the great altarpiece, known as the Majestas, which, on its completion, June 9, 1311, was carried in procession to the cathedral with great public rejoicings as a thank offering for the victory of Monte Aperto years before.
On the back of the great panel, 14 feet in length, were twenty-six little pictures, scenes from the life of Christ and the Passion. It was originally on the high altar of the Cathedral, in an elaborate Gothic frame.
The colors of the great picture are very rich though dark, the gold of the halos adding much to the splendor, while emphasizing the formal balanced arrangement.
The saints in niches above are distinctly Byzantine. A careful comparison with the Rucellai Madonna by Cimabue is valuable.
It is interesting to recall that Giotto had completed his work in the Arena Chapel shortly before this altarpiece was begun. Compare the Entrance into Jerusalem by the two artists. Duccio's picture shows a surprising understanding of perspective and stands much in advance of No. 88, which is still very Byzantine.
No. 90. Ancona. Academy, Siena.
A late work by Duccio, but reverting to the eastern form of altarpiece and to types distinctly Greek in character, although St. Dominic is one of the saints represented.
A characteristic work by Simone Martini. The frame was the work of Lippo Memmi, possibly also the saints. The work is tempera on a gold background. It was painted for the altar of S. Ansano in the Cathedral of Siena.
No one should fail to appreciate the sensuous character of the beauty of this altarpiece. It is not beauty of thought or of sentiment, but of line and color, of carved and gilded pinnacles, of the fret-work of olive branch and lily against the sheen of gold; of wings and fluttering garments balancing the Virgin in her carved chair, and stately saints standing guard. Few pictures better illustrate the Sienese taste. No. 92. Virgin of Mercy.
" Lippo, native of the pleasant Siena, painted us," is the quaint inscription on this picture painted for the chapel of the Corporale, where the blood-stained chalice cloth of the Miracle of Bolsena is kept. The gigantic stature of the Madonna to suggest her superiority is a motive that may be found in Egyptian and primitive Greek art.
No. 93. Madonna and Child with SS. John and Francis.
Lower Church, S. Francesco, Assisi.
" At Assisi, in a fresco by Pietro of such relief and such enamel as to seem contrived of ivory and gold rather than painted, the Madonna holds back heart-broken tears as she looks fixedly at the Child, who, Babe though He is, addresses her earnestly, but she remains unconsoled." Berenson.
No. 94. Good Government.
No. 95. Peace.
No. 96. Magnanimity, Temperance, and Justice.
Palazzo Pubblico, Siena.
The Sala della Pace was decorated in 1337–1343 by Ambrogio Lorenzetti with frescos representing Good and Bad Government and their effects upon the community. In 94 we see the Commune of Siena majestically en-throned with Virtues on either side, and below captives and men bringing tribute. At the left sits Justice directed by Wisdom, from whose scales lean angels to administer rewards and punishments. Below sits Concord.
Allegory, the favorite form of instruction of the Mediaeval schoolmen, has seldom been carried farther in the realm of painting than in this series and those following from the Campo Santo. The figures of the Virtues show Ambrogio as a painter of much ability and feeling for beauty though of a stereotyped order, but with no appreciation of what is necessary to make a wall beautiful. Cf. Giotto's panels in S. Croce, 72, 73.
Nos. 98, 99. The Triumph of Death.
No. 101. Group of Women.
No. 102. Horsemen.
Campo Santo, Pisa.
This building, with its contents, forms one of the most interesting museums of early art to be found in Italy. It is a Gothic cloister designed by Giovanni Pisano to enclose the holy ground brought in many shiploads from Palestine. Beneath the arcade stand many interesting sculptures of classic and Christian times, while frescos of various periods cover the walls. Among the earliest of these is the Triumph of Death, thoroughly characteristic of the fancies and beliefs of the fourteenth century. The artist is unknown. Tradition ascribed it to Orcagna. Modern authorities believe it to be the work of a Sienese artist. It shows the same lack of design and unbalanced composition, the same love of allegory seen in the work of the Lorenzetti.
Death is seen as a gigantic figure with bat-like wings and long gray hair, swinging his scythe toward the merry group of women, ignoring the poor and sick who entreat him to take them. Angels and demons are busy caring for the infant souls of his victims, sometimes struggling to secure possession, as of the fat friar in mid-heaven. The gay hunting party is reminded of the nearness of death at every turn. Tranquillity is secured by the monks at their books. There is much quaint humor throughout the scene, and very real beauty in the group of women. The need for elaborate explanation is the great criticism upon it as art, but no doubt added much of interest to the generation for which it was painted, as it still does today.
No. 100. The Inferno.
Campo Santo, Pisa.
One portion of the Last Judgment, painted perhaps by a follower of the Lorenzetti. It is similar to the one opposite Orcagna's Paradise. It is an interesting commentary upon the beliefs of the age. Dante's genius was necessary to lift such a theme into the realm of art.
No. 97. Madonna del Belverde.
Servi di Maria, Siena.
The only undamaged picture remaining of Giacomo del Pelliciaio's work. It is characteristic of one of the marked tendencies of the Sienese school, much decorated rather than decorative. Mr. Douglas says it " gives us the same kind of pleasure as does a rich ecclesiastical vestment, or a well-decked altar with a splendid dossal and lights lit for festival."
No. 109. Madonna and Child, with Saints.
A characteristic work by Sano di Pietro, full of the beauty of gold and color and gentle sentiment, but following still the traditions of an earlier century. S. Bernardino of Siena stands at the right, holding his tablet, with the monogram of Christ surrounded by flame, which he urged the people to carve or paint upon their homes and churches in adoration of the Holy Name. St. Francis is at the left. Compare with Florentine painting of 1450-1480.
No. 110. Madonna, Child, and Angels.
Many altarpieces by Matteo similar to this are found in the churches of Siena. Two of the best are in S. Domenico. There is, however, little sign of progression in his work.
EARLY ITALIAN ART
Heywood, WILLIAM. The " Ensamples " of Fra Filippo. A Study of Mediæval Siena. Siena, Torrini, 1901. 10 lire.
Based on a collection of tales written in the 14th century.
Sabatier, PAUL. Life of Saint Francis of Assisi. Trans. by L. S. Houghton. N. Y., Scribner, 1894. $2.50.
Schevill, FERDINAND. Siena, The Story of a Mediaeval Commune. N. Y., Scribner, 1909. $2.50.
Schubring, PAUL. Pisa. (Beruhmte Kunststatten). Leipzig, Seemann, 1902.
Supino, I. BENVENUTO. Arte Pisana. Florence, Alinari, 1904.
Thode, HENRY. Giotto (Kunstler-Monographien, No. 43, ed. by Knackfuss). Leipzig, Bielefeld, 1899.
Weigelt, CURT H. Duccio di Buoninsegna. Studien zur Geschichte der fruhsienessischen Tafelmalerei. Leipzig, Hiersemann, 1911. 64 plates. (Kunstgeschichtliche Monographien 15.)
Great Masters Series — Giorno.
llustrated Biographies — GIOTTO.
Masters in Art — GIOTTO, Duccio.
Mediaeval Towns Series — Assisi, PISA, SIENA.