Pisanello (circa 1380-circa 1455) (Antonio Pisano)

"Pisanello (circa 1380-circa 1455) (Antonio Pisano)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 28th April 2011

Antonio Pisano named Pisanello, Italian painter, medal-maker and miniaturist, was born in Pisa in circa 1380 and probably died in Mantua in circa 1455. The data about life and work of this personality are confusing and very few. In the beginning of the XV century Pisanello lived in Verona, the place where he always returned after continuous movement from one city to another. His teacher most probably was Gentile da Fabriano who's influence could be seen in four tablets with Storie di San Benedetto (Florence (Ufizzi) and Milan (Poldi Pezzoli)) and in frescoes with the Leggenda di Sant'Eligio (Treviso, Santa Caterina). The frescoes depicted together with his teacher in Palazzo Ducale in Venice (1409-1415) were lost.
pisanello ritratto
The fact that Pisanello became one of the eminent representatives of international Gothic style is partly due to the influence of such artists as Stefano da Zevio and Michelino da Besozzione: Madonna della quaglia (Verona, Museum of Castelvecchio). Between 1422 and 1425 the artist began his long activity at service of the house of Gonzaga di Mantova. In 1426 was created the famous Annunciazione for the Monumento Brenzoni (Verona, San Fermo Maggiore): here the style of Gentile da Fabriano with who Pisanello had probably met in Florence and of the brothers Limbourg is quite recognizable.

After work in 1426-1432 in Rome on the lost now frescoes in St John Lateran in collaboration with his teacher, he studied the modern Florentine Renaissance tendencies (Masaccio, Alberti) and classic monuments, but humanistic sense didn't touch the works of Pisanello who continued creating works according the tastes of the north Italian courts. After the death in 1432 of Gentile da Fabriano he bequeathed to his pupil the studio as to the one of the greatest artists of the late Italian Gothic respected by the most important courts. For Gonzaga was created the portrait of the emperor Sigismond (see picture) (Vienne, Kunsthistorisches Mus.), and for Leonello d'Este in Ferrara was depicted the portrait of Margherita Gonzaga (Paris, circa 1435, Louvre), and later the portrait of Leonello d'Este (Bergamo, Acc.Carrara).

These are some of the greatest examples of the court portrait painting in the 15th century. In 1437-1438 was frescoed the church of Sant'Anastasia in Verona with Partenza di San Giorgio. In the 40's of the 15th century he executed all his medals that he started designing since 1438 maybe influenced by example of Ghilberti.

Pisanello was the greatest medal-maker of his times in Italy connecting humanistic ambitions and late gothic tendency to allegory (among the purchasers of his medals were the members of the houses of Este, Gonzaga, Visconti, Sforza and Aragon). During the last decade of his life the art of Pisanello is far from Gentile and is referred to methods of Ghilberti, Paolo Uccello, Masolino: Madonna con i Santi Antonio abate e Giorgio (1447-1448) (London, Nat.Gall.) (see picture) depicted for Ludovico Gonzaga; Visione di Sant'Eustachio (London, Nat.Gall.). Again for the Gonzagas before or after the sojourn in Naples in 1449 Pisanello executed his last and the greatest work - the cycle of frescoes recognized by the remained fragments in Palazzo Ducale in Mantua: the dramatic mixture of knight scenes, figures, nature and landscape. A big number of drawings (a lot of them are in Paris, Louvre) gives an idea about other projects and lost works of Pisanello.
pisanello madonna

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