Antonio Pisano, known as Pisanello, was one of the most representative artists of the international Gothic style in Northern Italy.
It was his birth in the Tuscan town of Pisa that prompted the artist to sign his paintings as Pisano or Pisanello; reference is made to Pisanello in a number of documents, dating back to 1415-1422, where it is said that he replaced Gentile da Fabriano in realizing the frescoes – now lost – of Palazzo Ducale in Venice.
Although he was influenced by Piero della Francesca, Luca Signorelli (circa 1445-1523) soon moved away from the motionless geometries of the artist from Borgo Sansepolcro, being more driven towards the muscular anatomy and dynamic movement proclaimed by Pollaiolo in Florence.
Francesco di Giorgio Martini
In his paintings, the human figure has a central role: it is stable, strong and sturdy, at times noble and austere.
Francesco di Giorgio (1439-1502), born in Siena, was an architect, sculptor, painter and treatise-writer, and clearly represented Urbino’s mathematical humanism - though not as a painter, in that he pursued the typical irrationalist ideals of Siena’s typical painting. When sculpting, however, he acted in line with the humanistic spirit and, through his excitedly moving though fully organic figures, he proved to keep abreast of the late works by Donatello.
However, his main field of interest was architecture, which he devoted himself to in Urbino, Tuscany, Marche, and even in Lombardia, having been called in 1490 for advice on the building of the lantern of the Dome in Pavia.
Luciano Laurana (circa 1420-1479) was born in Zara, Dalmatia. This should not come as a surprise: Yugoslavia, in fact, which was still Venetian in the 15th century, was soon affected by Renaissance artistic culture.
Laurana first trained in his homeland, before heading for Naples, Mantua and eventually Urbino. It is surprising how little is known about this architect, who was one of the most important figures in the 15th century.
Domenico Veneziano, as his name suggests, was born in Venice between 1405 and 1410. He died in Florence in 1461, though, unlike what originally believed, this did not happen at the hands of his envious pupil Andrea del Castagno, who had been dead by then for four years!. Some argue that Domenico Veneziano was the first painter to introduce in Florence Flemish-inspired oil painting. There are no certainties in this respect. What is sure is that he certainly knew Flemish painting, as shown in his works, and shared the same attention to naturalistic details and to the ostentation of luxury, drawing from Gentile da Fabriano, whom he was a pupil of in Florence in 1422-23, and from Pisanello, with whom he worked in Rome between the second and third decade of the century.
Rogier Van der Weyden
Rogier van der Weyden, also known as Rogier de la Pasture (Tournai, circa 1400-Brussels, 18th June 1464), was the official painter of Brussels and of the Este’s Family. Together with R. Campin, whom he was a pupil of, and with J. van Eyck, he was one of the founding fathers of the great 15th century Flemish painting.
Francesco del Cossa
“Jan van Eyck is an explorer, whereas Roger is an inventor”: thus did Max Frielander, one of the main experts in 15th century Dutch painting, describe, as early as in 1916, the different nature of the two founders of the Flemish painting school. “Van Eyck observed things that no painter had ever observed, while Van der Weyden tried to express feelings and sensations – especially painful ones – which no painter had ever managed to capture”, said Erwin Panofsky in his fundamental essay of 1953. On the one hand, their painting allowed for the “discovery of the visible world”, the inspection of reality and its ensuing faithful reproduction by relying on new painting techniques; on the other, a new sense of action was developed between religious figures, as if they were tableaux vivants drawing from sacred representations; above all, it allowed for the first convincing and non conventional expression of feelings.
While working in Ferrara at the Estense’s Court, Francesco del Cossa (1436-1478) took part in the most important fresco of the late 15th century commissioned by a Northern Court, namely the decoration of the Hall of Months in Palazzo Schifanoia, commissioned in 1470 by Borso d’Este.
Agostino di Duccio
Francesco del Cossa painted the entire months of March and April, i.e. where his sweet fairytale-like late Gothic tone was fused with geometric stylization, under the strong influence of Piero della Francesca.
Agostino di Duccio (1418-1481) learnt from Donatello the “stiacciato” technique; however, instead of using it to stress the painting character of reliefs, he used it to attain fluid superficial decorations, of an essentially archaic nature.
Unluckily, in 1446 he was charged with theft, and was banished from Florence. He thus fled to Venice, then Rimini, from 1449-1457, where he worked as a designer and, in part, contributed to the decoration of the reliefs in the Tempio Malatestiano restored by Alberti.