Melozzo da Forlì

Melozzo da Forlì

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Melozzo da Forlì was an Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 painter and architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

. His fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

 paintings are notable for the use of foreshortening. He was the most important member of the Forlì painting school
Forlì painting school
The Forlivese school of art was a group of Italian Renaissance painters and artists, a lot of them born in Forlì or near Forlì, between the 14th and the 18th centuries...

.

Biography


Melozzo was supposedly from a wealthy family named Ambrosi from Forlì
Forlì
Forlì is a comune and city in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and is the capital of the province of Forlì-Cesena. The city is situated along the Via Emilia, to the right of the Montone river, and is an important agricultural centre...

. Nothing is known about his early years. It is only a hypothesis that he was formed by the Forlivese school of art, then dominated by Ansuino da Forlì
Ansuino da Forlì
Ansuino da Forlì was an Italian painter of the Quattrocento period. Born and active in Forlì and Padua in the mid-15th century, he was a member of a Forlì painting school and influed the great Melozzo da Forlì....

; both were influenced by Andrea Mantegna
Andrea Mantegna
Andrea Mantegna was an Italian painter, a student of Roman archeology, and son in law of Jacopo Bellini. Like other artists of the time, Mantegna experimented with perspective, e.g., by lowering the horizon in order to create a sense of greater monumentality...

. It has been said, also without confirmation, that he became a journeyman and color-grinder to master painters. His presence was first mentioned in his birthplace in 1460 and again in 1464. Around this period, and together with Antoniazzo Romano
Antoniazzo Romano
Antoniazzo Romano, born Antonio di Benedetto Aquilo degli Aquili was an Italian Early Renaissance painter, the leading figure of the Roman school during the 15th century.-Biography:...

, he painted frescoes in the Bessarione chapel in the basilica dei Santi Apostoli in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. Melozzo then moved to Urbino
Urbino
Urbino is a walled city in the Marche region of Italy, south-west of Pesaro, a World Heritage Site notable for a remarkable historical legacy of independent Renaissance culture, especially under the patronage of Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino from 1444 to 1482...

, probably between 1465 and 1475. There he met Piero della Francesca
Piero della Francesca
Piero della Francesca was a painter of the Early Renaissance. As testified by Giorgio Vasari in his Lives of the Artists, to contemporaries he was also known as a mathematician and geometer. Nowadays Piero della Francesca is chiefly appreciated for his art. His painting was characterized by its...

, who profoundly influenced Melozzo's style and use of perspective. He would have also studied architecture by Bramante and the work of Flemish
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 painters then working for duke Federico da Montefeltro
Federico da Montefeltro
Federico da Montefeltro, also known as Federico III da Montefeltro , was one of the most successful condottieri of the Italian Renaissance, and lord of Urbino from 1444 until his death...

. Melozzo may have worked with Justus of Ghent and Pedro Berruguete
Pedro Berruguete
Pedro Berruguete was a Spanish painter; his art is regarded as a transitional style between gothic and Renaissance. Born in Paredes de Nava, Spain, he went to Italy in 1480 and worked in Federico III da Montefeltro's court in Urbino, where he could see some works by Melozzo da Forlì...

 to decorate the studiolo of the city's famous Ducal Palace.
In 1475 Melozzo transferred to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, although some authorities claim his presence in Rome five or ten years earlier for work in the Basilica di San Marco. In 1477 he finished his first major work in the new seat, a fresco now transferred to canvas and placed in the Pinacoteca Vaticana, representing Sixtus IV Appointing Platina as Librarian of the Vatican Library. In the same year Girolamo Riario
Girolamo Riario
Girolamo Riario was Lord of Imola and Forlì in the 15th century.- Biography :Born in Savona, Riario was the son of Paolo Riario and Bianca della Rovere...

 built his palace in Rome, now known as Palazzo Altemps, with designs by Melozzo. In 1478 he was one of the original members of the academy of St Luke, founded by Sixtus IV to unite the chief painters working in the city.

In about 1480 Melozzo was commissioned by Pietro Riario
Pietro Riario
Pietro Riario was an Italian cardinal and Papal diplomat.-Biography:Born in Savona, he was the son of Paolo Riario and Pope Sixtus IVs' sister, Bianca Della Rovere. Sixtus nominated him in 1471 bishop of Treviso and cardinal, and, in 1473, archbishop of Florence. He was entrusted with Sixtus'...

 to paint the vault of the apse in the basilica dei Santi Apostoli in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, his subject being the Ascension of Christ. In this work, Christ is boldly and effectively foreshortened. This fresco was taken down in 1711. The figure of Christ is now in the Quirinal Palace
Quirinal Palace
The Quirinal Palace is a historical building in Rome, Italy, the current official residence of the President of the Italian Republic. It is located on the Quirinal Hill, the tallest of the seven hills of Rome...

; while some of the other portions, which influenced Raphael
Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

, are in the sacristy of St Peter's. A hall in the Vatican Museums
Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums , in Viale Vaticano in Rome, inside the Vatican City, are among the greatest museums in the world, since they display works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries, including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and...

, with designs of angels and apostles by Melozzo, was taken from the same fresco. Another work of the Roman period is an Annunciation that can still be seen in the Pantheon
Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon ,Rarely Pantheum. This appears in Pliny's Natural History in describing this edifice: Agrippae Pantheum decoravit Diogenes Atheniensis; in columnis templi eius Caryatides probantur inter pauca operum, sicut in fastigio posita signa, sed propter altitudinem loci minus celebrata.from ,...

.

Melozzo's last work in Rome was a chapel, now destroyed, in the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere
Santa Maria in Trastevere
The Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere is a titular minor basilica, one of the oldest churches in Rome, and perhaps the first in which mass was openly celebrated...

. After the death of Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV , born Francesco della Rovere, was Pope from 1471 to 1484. His accomplishments as Pope included the establishment of the Sistine Chapel; the group of artists that he brought together introduced the Early Renaissance into Rome with the first masterpiece of the city's new artistic age,...

 in 1484, Melozzo moved from Rome to Loreto
Loreto (AN)
Loreto is a hilltown and comune of the Italian province of Ancona, in the Marche. It is mostly famous as the seat of the Basilica della Santa Casa, a popular Catholic pilgrimage site.-Location:...

. There he painted the fresco in the cupola of the sacristy of San Marco in the Basilica della Santa Casa, commissioned by cardinal Girolamo Basso della Rovere
Girolamo Basso della Rovere
Girolamo Basso della Rovere was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.Basso della Rovere was the son of Giovanni Basso and his wife Luchina della Rovere of the House of della Rovere and sister of Pope Sixtus IVHe was bishop of Albenga in 1472, and then Bishop of Recanati in 1476...

. It is one of the first examples of a cupola decorated both with architectures and figures; it greatly influenced the Camera degli Sposi by Mantegna
Andrea Mantegna
Andrea Mantegna was an Italian painter, a student of Roman archeology, and son in law of Jacopo Bellini. Like other artists of the time, Mantegna experimented with perspective, e.g., by lowering the horizon in order to create a sense of greater monumentality...

.

In 1489 Melozzo returned in Rome. During this period he probably drew some cartoons for the mosaics of Jesus blessing in the St. Helen chapel of the basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
The Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem is a Roman Catholic parish church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy. It is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome....

.

Melozzo also painted the cupola of the Capuchin church at Forlì, which was destroyed in 1651. It has been said that he executed at Urbino
Urbino
Urbino is a walled city in the Marche region of Italy, south-west of Pesaro, a World Heritage Site notable for a remarkable historical legacy of independent Renaissance culture, especially under the patronage of Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino from 1444 to 1482...

 some of the portraits of great men (Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, Dante
DANTE
Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various national research and education networks in Europe and surrounding regions...

, Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV , born Francesco della Rovere, was Pope from 1471 to 1484. His accomplishments as Pope included the establishment of the Sistine Chapel; the group of artists that he brought together introduced the Early Renaissance into Rome with the first masterpiece of the city's new artistic age,...

, et al) which are now divided between the Barberini Palace
Palazzo Barberini
Palazzo Barberini is a palace in Rome, facing the piazza of the same name in Rione Trevi and is home to the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica.-History:...

 and the Campana collection in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. In 1493 he worked on some ceilings, now lost, of the Palazzo Comunale of Ancona
Ancona
Ancona is a city and a seaport in the Marche region, in central Italy, with a population of 101,909 . Ancona is the capital of the province of Ancona and of the region....

. Eventually Melozzo returned to Forlì, where, together with his pupil Marco Palmezzano
Marco Palmezzano
Marco Palmezzano was an Italian painter and architect, belonging to the Forlì painting school, who painted in a style recalling earlier Northern Renaissance models, and was mostly active near Forlì.-Biography:...

, he decorated the Feo Chapel in the church of San Biagio, which was destroyed during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The Pinacoteca of Forlì
Forlì
Forlì is a comune and city in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and is the capital of the province of Forlì-Cesena. The city is situated along the Via Emilia, to the right of the Montone river, and is an important agricultural centre...

 houses a fresco by Melozzo, known as the "Pestapepe," or Pepper-grinder, now much damaged. Originally painted as a grocer's sign, it is an energetic example of rather coarse realism and is Melozzo's only secular subject.

Melozzo died in November 1494 in Forlì
Forlì
Forlì is a comune and city in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and is the capital of the province of Forlì-Cesena. The city is situated along the Via Emilia, to the right of the Montone river, and is an important agricultural centre...

 and is buried in the Church of the Most Holy Trinity.

Legacy


While few of Melozzo's works are still preserved, critics agree that he contributed to the progress of pictorial art. Without being remarkable as a colorist, he painted with care and finish, creating fine and dignified figures. His use of perspective influenced other painters. Melozzo's works bear a certain resemblance to those of his contemporary Mantegna
Andrea Mantegna
Andrea Mantegna was an Italian painter, a student of Roman archeology, and son in law of Jacopo Bellini. Like other artists of the time, Mantegna experimented with perspective, e.g., by lowering the horizon in order to create a sense of greater monumentality...

. Marco Palmezzano
Marco Palmezzano
Marco Palmezzano was an Italian painter and architect, belonging to the Forlì painting school, who painted in a style recalling earlier Northern Renaissance models, and was mostly active near Forlì.-Biography:...

 was a pupil of Melozzo. The signature "Marcus de Melotius" on some of Palmezzano's works, along with a general affinity of style, has led to their being ascribed to Melozzo and to the latter being incorrectly named "Marco Melozzo." The paintings of Melozzo strongly influenced Michelangelo, Raphael
Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

 and Donato Bramante
Donato Bramante
Donato Bramante was an Italian architect, who introduced the Early Renaissance style to Milan and the High Renaissance style to Rome, where his most famous design was St...

.