Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Lorenzo Monaco

Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni) (ca. 1370 - 1423/24)
The Nativity, 1409
Tempera on wood, gold ground; 8 3/4 x 12 1/4 in. (22.2 x 31.1 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection,
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni) (ca. 1370 - 1423/24)
The Adoration of the Magi 1421-1422
Tempera on wood, gold ground
144 × 177 cm
The Uffizi Galery, Florence

Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni) (ca. 1370 - 1423/24)
The Adoration of the Magi
Tempera on panel
20.9 cm x 32.5 cm
The Courtauld Gallery, London

Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni) (ca. 1370 - 1423/24)
The Flight into Egypt 1405
Tempera on poplar,
21,2 x 35,5 cm

Staatliches Lindenau-Museum, Altenburg

Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni) (ca. 1370 - 1423/24)
The Virgin and Child Enthroned
about 1418
Tempera and gold on panel
101.60 x 61.70 cm
The National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni) (ca. 1370 - 1423/24)
Madonna and Child Enthroned c.1400
Tempera and gold on panel
150.5 cm x 78.5 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Piero di Giovanni joined the Camaldolese monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence in 1391, but he left monastic life in 1395 before making a lifetime commitment. He rose to the rank of deacon

Despite this fact, he has traditionally been called "Lawrence the Monk"

An early document suggests that he was from the parish of San Michele Visdomini in Florence, although a document of the 29th of January 1415 mentions him as "don Lorenzo dipintore da siene" (see J. Czarnecki, "Lorenzo Monaco," in Grove Dictionary of Art, 1996, vol. 19, p. 678).

In the period 1408–10 he was the leading master in Florence.

He became an master for the young artists who went on to become protagonists of the early Renaissance such as Beato Angelico who can be considered his most obvious pupil and who went on to eclipse somewhat his master's greatness

He is known primarily as a panel painter, but he also worked in the medium of fresco. Scholars believe he designed miniatures in illuminated manuscripts also

His paintings display the delicacy of expression and decorative design that characterized the traditions of his native Siena and the popular International Gothic style.

His reputation suffered in the years immediately following his death with the startling innovations of the subsequent generation of Florentine artists, and thus early sources treated him scantily.

It was only in the latter half of the 19th and the early part of the 20th century that scholarship restored Lorenzo to his rightful place, and that a clearer picture of his primacy in Florentine painting in the final two decades of the 14th century was understood.

Santa Maria degli Angeli was first built in 1295 and originally housed only six monks. At one point it supported at least sixty religious. Santa Maria degli Angeli became the sixth wealthiest religious institution in the city-state by 1428. It is well-known to Medieval and Renaissance art historians as an important centre of illuminated manuscript production

Leading painters of the day, like Nardo di Cione and Lorenzo Monaco, filled manuscripts and decorated altars with richly ornamented pictures that related directly to liturgical passages recited – and theological positions embraced – by members of the institution

The monks in Santa Mara degli Angeli counted among their staunchest allies families associated with the most important political alliances in Florence, and by 1378 the monastery was considered by many to be closely linked to the city’s most powerful families

"The Flight to Egypt" is part of a Predella to which belong three more preserved pieces: "The Visitation","The Adoration of the Magi" in the Courtauld Institute Gallery in London, and "The Nativity" in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Several attempts were made to reconstruct the altar. However, these paintings can neither be assigned to the "Annunciation" in the Accademica in Florence nor to the Monte Olivieto Altar from 1407 - 10 to which they would match stylistically, but the latter most probably never possessed a Predella. All these paintings have the Gothic four-pass framing that was used often by Lorenzo, such as a transverse rectangle.

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