Showing posts with label Bartolemeo Colleoni. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bartolemeo Colleoni. Show all posts

14 October 2016

Palma Giovane - painter

Mannerist took the mantle of Tintoretto 

Jacopo Negretti, the Venetian artist better known as Palma Giovane
Jacopo Negretti, the Venetian artist better
known as Palma Giovane
The Venetian artist Jacopo Negretti, best known as Jacopo Palma il Giovane - Palma the Younger - or simply Palma Giovane, died in Venice on this day in 1628.

Essentially a painter of the Italian Mannerist school, Palma Giovane's style evolved over time and after the death of Tintoretto in 1594 he became the most revered artist in Venice.

He became in demand beyond Venice, too, particularly in Bergamo, the city in Lombardy that was a dominion of Venice, and in central Europe.  He received many commissions in Bergamo and was often employed in Prague by the Habsburg Emperor, Rudolph II, who was a noted art connoisseur.

Palma had been born into a family of painters. His great uncle, also called Jacopo, was the painter Palma Vecchio - Palma the Elder - while his father, Antonio Negretti, was a pupil of the elder Palma’s workshop manager, Bonifacio Veronese, whose shop and clientele he inherited after the latter’s death.

The younger Palma is said to have developed his skills making copies in the style of Titian, although the claim in some biographies that he worked in Titian's workshop in Venice is now thought to be incorrect. What is not disputed is that when Titian died, in 1576, Palma was entrusted with finishing his last work, the Pietà, in the Accademia in Venice.

In 1567, Guidobaldo II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, had recognised Palma’s talents and sponsored him to further his education in Rome, where he remained until about 1572.

Palma Giovane's 1620 Lamentation of Christ, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington
Palma Giovane's 1620 Lamentation of Christ,
at the National Gallery of Art in Washington
On his return to Venice, Palma received his first major public commission, to paint three scenes in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio of the Doge’s Palace following a fire there in 1577.

Mannerism, from the Italian word maniera, meaning style, is characterised by frequently complex figures with elongated features, often given exaggerated, unusual poses.  It is seen as a reaction to High Renaissance art, which emphasised proportion, balance and idealistic beauty.

By the mid-1580s Palma was incorporating Tintoretto’s versatile figure postures and echoes of Titian’s loose brushstrokes and emphasis on light.

Palma worked alongside Veronese and Tintoretto on the decorations in the Doge’s Palace, where he embraced the Venetian tradition. Some of his finest works were the cycles of large canvases he painted for schools or religious brotherhoods and for sacred buildings such as the sacristies of San Giacomo dall’Orio and the Gesuiti, the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista, and the Ospedaletto dei Crociferi.

His official commissions at the Doge's Palace included a magnificent portrait of Saint Pope Pius V, commissioned by the Bellanti Counts, an influential family in Tuscany.  The painting left Italy after being bought by Major-General Sir Robert Dick, the British soldier and collector, before being returned by Roberto Gagliardi, an Italian art dealer based in London, who purchased it at Bonham's for display at the Museum of Art he established at Chianciano, not far from Siena.

After his death at the age of 80, Palma was interred in the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, a traditional burial place of the doges.

The Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice, where Palma Giovane is buried
The Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo in
Venice, where Palma Giovane is buried
Travel tip:

The huge Gothic Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, where Palma Giovane is buried, is in the Castello district of Venice.  It is one of the largest churches in Venice and after the 15th century the funerals of all Doges took place there.  In all, it houses the tombs of 25 Doges.  There are many works by Veronese in the Chapel of the Rosary, as well as paintings elsewhere by Lorenzo Lotto and sculptures by Pietro Lombardo.  Outside is a statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, the Bergamo condottiero (mercenary) and a former captain-general of the Republic of Venice, by Andrea del Verrocchio.

Travel tip:

Several of Palma Giovane's works commissioned in Bergamo are on display at the Accademia Carrara, a magnificent palace just outside Bergamo's Città Alta that was built in the 18th century to house one of the richest private collections in Italy. Visitors can view works by the masters of the Venetian, Lombard and Tuscan Renaissances as well as great artists who came later, such as Lotto, Titian, Moroni, Rubens, Tiepolo, Guardi and Canaletto.  The gallery, in Piazza Giacomo Carrara, is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (10am to 7pm); Friday (10am to 12 noon) and Saturday and Sunday (10am to 8pm).

More reading:

Titian - giant of Renaissance art

Tintoretto - dyer's won whose work still adorns Venice

How Guardi captured the final glory years of the Venetian Republic


25 July 2016

Battle of Molinella

First time artillery played a major part in warfare

A scene from the Battle of Molinella depicted by the artist Il Romanino in frescoes at Malpaga Castle, near Bergamo
A scene from the Battle of Molinella depicted by the artist
Il Romanino in frescoes at Malpaga Castle, near Bergamo
An important battle in Italy’s history was fought on this day in 1467 at Molinella, near Bologna.

On one side were infantry and cavalry representing Venice and on the other side there was an army serving Florence.

It was the first battle in Italy in which artillery and firearms were used extensively, the main weapons being cannons fired by gunpowder that could launch heavy stone or metal balls.  The barrels were 10 to 12 feet in length and had to be cleaned following each discharge, a process that took up to two hours.

Leading the 14,000 soldiers fighting for Venice was the Bergamo condottiero Bartolomeo Colleoni. He was working jointly with Ercole I d’Este from Ferrara and noblemen from Pesaro and Forlì.

A portrait of Bartolomeo Colleoni by the Italian artist Cristofano dell'altissimo
A portrait of Bartolomeo Colleoni by the
Italian artist Cristofano dell'altissimo
Another condottiero, Federico da Montefeltro, led the army of 13,000 soldiers serving Florence in an alliance with Galeazzo Maria Sforza, ruler of the Duchy of Milan, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Giovanni II Bentivoglio, the ruler of Bologna.

Condottieri were professional military leaders hired by the Italian city-states to lead armies on their behalf.

The fighting took place between the villages of Riccardina and Molinella and so the event is also sometimes referred to as the Battle of Riccardina

It is not certain which side won, but as a result Colleoni abandoned his plans to conquer Milan. There were hundreds of casualties and it is thought up to 1,000 horses were killed.

The following year Pope Paul II managed to broker a peace between the two sides.

Travel tip:

Molinella is a small town to the north east of Bologna in Emilia Romagna and was of strategic importance because of its hilltop position between Bologna and Ferrara. It now has a railway station on the Bologna-Portomaggiore line.

Colleoni's castle at Malpaga, south of Bergamo
Colleoni's castle at Malpaga, south of Bergamo
Travel tip:

Bartolomeo Colleoni spent the last years of his life living with his family at his castle in Malpaga to the south of Bergamo, which has frescoes depicting scenes from the Battle of Molinella that are attributed to the painter Il Romanino. The castle is open to the public at weekends between March and November.

More reading:

Colleoni the honourable condottiero

Da Montefeltro used earnings from war to sponsor the arts

(Photo of fresco by Giorces CC BY-SA 2.5it)
(Photo of Colleoni portrait by Sailko CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of castle by Mercurioblu CC BY-SA 3.0)


2 November 2015

Bartolomeo Colleoni - soldier

Death of an ‘honourable’ Italian military leader

Bergamo soldier Bartolomeo Colleoni, who became known for using his wealth to benefit people, died on this day in 1475.

Colleoni spent most of his life in the pay of the republic of Venice defending the city of Bergamo against invaders.

Statue of Colleoni in Venice
But he is remembered as one of the most decent condottieri of his era, carrying out charitable works and agricultural improvements in Bergamo and the surrounding area when he was not involved in military campaigns.

Condottieri were the leaders of troops, who worked for the powerful ruling factions, often for high payments. 

Bergamo’s Bartolomeo Colleoni was unusual because he remained steadfast to one employer, the republic of Venice, for most of his career.

During a period of peace between Venice and Milan he worked briefly for Milan but the rulers never fully trusted him and eventually he was arrested and imprisoned. On his release, he returned to work for Venice and subsequently stayed faithful to them.

Towards the end of his life he lived with his family at his castle in Malpaga, to the south of Bergamo and turned his attention to designing a building to house his own tomb. 

This has given Bergamo’s upper town its most ornate and celebrated building, the Cappella Colleoni (Colleoni Chapel).

Colleoni Chapel in Bergamo
Bartolomeo Colleoni left money to Venice in his will with a request that a statue of himself be erected in Piazza San Marco after his death. As there was a rule that no monuments were allowed in the Piazza, the statue, made by Andrea del Verrocchio, was eventually placed opposite the Scuola di San Marco in Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo.

Travel tip:

Visit Bergamo to see one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Italy.  
Cappella Colleoni was designed by architect Antonio Amadeo to harmonise with the adjacent Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, using pink and white marble to match the colours of the doorway of the basilica. Inside the chapel there is an elaborate two tier sarcophagus surmounted by a golden statue of Colleoni on horseback. The military leader’s body was placed in the lower sarcophagus, according to his instructions, where it still lies today. Above his tomb there are frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo.

Travel tip:

November 2 is All Souls Day, or the Day of the Dead, in Italy, when people visit the graves of their loved ones. Many areas observe their own rituals and have special foods, such as the slightly macabre ossi dei morti (bones of the dead), which are traditional biscuits eaten on All Souls Day in the Veneto region.