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ITALY, 1400-1500. GARDNER CHAPTER 21-2 PP. 548-556. GATES OF PARADISE. LORENZO GHIBERTI, east doors (Gates of Paradise), baptistery, Florence, Italy, 1425-1452, gilded bronze, 17’ high.

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ITALY, 1400-1500

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PP. 548-556


  • LORENZO GHIBERTI, east doors (Gates of Paradise), baptistery, Florence, Italy, 1425-1452, gilded bronze, 17’ high

  • LORENEZO GHIBERTI, Isaac and His Sons, detail from east doors of the baptistery in Florence, Italy, 1425-1452, gilded bronze, 2’ 7½” x 2’ 7½“

  • Commission awarded to Ghiberti after the success of the second set of Baptistery doors

  • Spatially more sophisticated than panels of his previous set of doors; figures have a more convincing volume

  • Lean, elegant, elongated bodies

  • Delicate lines

  • Linear perspective used throughout


  • DONATELLO, David, ca. 1440-1460, bronze, 5’2” high

  • The revival of the freestanding nude statue

  • Cast for display in the courtyard of the Medici palace in Florence

  • In the Middle Ages nude statues were considered indecent and idolatrous

  • Image of the youthful biblical slayer of Goliath -> symbol of the independent Florentine republic

  • Relaxed contrapposto and the sensuous beauty of nude Greek gods -> appealed to the humanist Medici


  • ANDREA DEL VERROCCHIO, David, ca. 1465-1470, bronze, 4’1½” high

  • Verrocchio directed a flourishing BOTTEGA (studio-shop) in Florence

  • Also made for the Medici -> displays a brash confidence

  • The statue’s narrative realism contrasts strongly with the quiet classicism of Donatello’s David


  • ANTONIO DEL POLLAIUOLO, Hercules and Antaeus, ca. 1470-1475, bronze, 1’6” high

  • Renaissance interest in classical culture led to a revival of Greco-Roman themes in art

  • Commissioned by the Medici

  • Exhibits the stress and strain of the human figure in violent action -> depicts the wrestling match between the giant Antaeus and Hercules -> strangled him around the waist while keeping him aloft


  • DONATELLO, Gattamelata(equestrian statue of Erasmo da Narni), Piazza del Santo, Padua, Italy, ca. 1445-1453, bronze, 12’2” high

  • Increased emphasis on human achievement and recognition of humanism -> revival of portraiture in the 15th century

  • Commemorative monument to the CONDOTIERRE Erasmo da Narni -> nicknamed Gattamelata = “the honeyed cat”

  • First equestrian statue to rival the mounted portraits of antiquity, cf. Marcus Aurelius

  • Horse is spirited, to scale, resting one leg on an orb -> ancient symbol of hegemony over the earth


  • ANDREA DEL VERROCCHIO, Bartolommeo Colleoni (equestrian statue), Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paulo, Venice, Italy, ca. 1481-1496, bronze, 13’ high

  • Equestrian statue of the Venetian conditierreColleoni

  • Compare the image of grim wiseness with the image of brute strength and merciless might

  • Dramatically alive and forceful appearance with bulging, fiery eyes -> rising from the saddle w/a violent twist of the body

  • Machiavelli in his 1513 political treatise, The Prince, wrote that the successful ruler must combine the traits of the lion and the fox. Gattamelata is the fox and Colleoni is the lion.


  • GENTILE DA FABRIANO, Adoration of the Magi, altarpiece from Strozzi Chapel, Santa Trinita, Florence, 1423, tempera on wood, 9’11” x 9’3”

  • Persistence of the International Gothic Style well into the 15th century

  • Fancifully dressed figures in a courtly outing to see the Christ child at the Epiphany -> reflects the wealth of the patrons, the Strozzi family

  • Exotic animals

  • Kings are of various ages symbolizing the Three Ages of Man

  • High horizon line filled w/activity

  • Naturalism seen in the various animals viewed from many angles

  • Late Gothic splendor of color, costume, and framing ornament

  • The church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence

  • To the right – the Bracacci family chapel

  • Masaccio was commissioned to paint frescoes for it

  • MASACCIO is the artistic descendant of Giotto

  • MASSACCIO, The Tribute Money, Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence, fresco, 8’4” x 19’7”


  • Odd subject matter; continuous narrative starting in center then moving left then right; figures recall the simple grandeur of Giotto’s figure but w/more psychological and physical credibility; use of light; arrangement of figures in circular depth around Jesus; one-point perspective; landscape displays atmospheric perspective


  • MASACCIO, Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden, Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence, Italy, ca. 1424-1427, fresco, 7’ x 2’11”

  • Bold use of nude forms

  • Intense expressions -> Adam hides his face in shame, Eve hides her body in shame

  • Bleak background represents the desolation outside the garden

  • Angel is foreshortened


  • MASACCIO, Holy Trinity, Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy, ca. 1424-1427, fresco, 21’10” x 10’5”

  • Created for the Lenzi family as a tombstone

  • Triangular figural composition dominated by Brunelleschi inspired architecture

  • Christ appears in dual role as Crucified Christ and as the second person of the Trinity -> God the father supports him, the white dove of the Holy Spirit between the two

  • Mary and Saint John flank Christ

  • Patrons kneel outside the arch

  • Realism of faces

  • Skeleton below symbolizes death -> inscription reads “I was once what you are; and what I am you will become.”


  • FRA ANGELICO, Annuciation, San Marco, Florence, Italy, ca. 1438-1447, fresco, 7’1” x 10’6”

  • Painted for the Dominican monks of San Marco

  • Fra Angelico’s fresco is simple and direct

  • Humility of the figures; serenely religious; solid Giotto like quality

  • Empty spare scene equivalent to the monastic cells; foliated capitals; Brunelleschi like arches

  • The appeal of and reflection of the artist’s simple, humble character


  • ANDREA DEL CASTAGNO, Last Supper, the refectory, convent of Sant’Apollonia, Florence, Italy, 1447, fresco, 15’5” x 32’

  • Painted for cloistered nuns in a convent

  • Placed in the refectory -> religious scene of eating complements where it is placed in the convent

  • Figures are individualized; precise edging; uniform sharp focus; little communication among figures

  • Judas on our side of the table -> apart from the others symbolizing his/our guilt

  • Lavishly painted room that Christ and the disciples occupy

Details from Andrea del Castagno’s – Last Supper

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