History of Italian Renaissance Sculpture


The sculpture of the Italian Renaissance comprises the approximate period between the late fourteenth and the early sixteenth century when Italian sculpture expressed a reaction against the aesthetic principles of Gothic and assimilating the influence of classical antiquity art, humanism and rationalism, developed a style that merged naturalistic and other idealistic elements into varying proportions. After preliminary rehearsals in Pisa, Siena and other cities of central-northern Italy, the Renaissance style appeared sharply first in Florence. Some authors point to the “official” beginning of the Renaissance in 1401, when a public contest was held in Florence for the creation of the bronze doors of the Baptistery of St. John; others point to 1408, when a group of sculptures of saints were commissioned from Donatello and Nanni di Banco for the facade of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore. Be that as it may, sculpture was the art in which the adoption of a new aesthetic was first observed, and was one of the most representative arts of all the Italian Renaissance.

The fifteenth century is characterized by extensive literature about the social rank that must cover the different artists, be they architects, painters or sculptors. In the Middle Ages, in fact, sculpture and painting were considered simple ” mechanical arts ” subservient to architecture. No sculptor ever used, save exceptions, to sign or sign his works.

With humanism a concept of artist began to develop as an intellectual figure, which does not exercise an art merely “mechanical”, but a ” liberal art “, based on mathematics, geometry, historical knowledge, literature and philosophy. The most important theorist of this new way of thinking was Leon Battista Alberti (De statua, 1464). In the 16th there was a summary of the entire debate in the Vives of Giorgio Vasari (1550 and 1568).

A tendency towards a reform of this state of affairs began with the consolidation of the first universities. Since the middle of the eleventh century Paris had become Europe’s greatest theological and cultural center through the presence of great philosophers and pedagogues such as Pedro Abelardo and Hugo de San Vitor, and the performance of several schools, which were merged to form, around 1170, the University of Paris. In this academic environment, quite liberal and relatively independent of the Church, a humanistic philosophy gained ground and the doctrine of purgatory was structured, which offered a way of escape from hell through a preliminary purifying stage to the ascent to paradise. At the same time the Virgin Mary, as well as other saints, began to be considered great advocates of the humanity next to the justice of Christ. In this process the old tendency of the Christian faith to correct the sinner through fear and threat with eternal damnation was tempered by visions that emphasized mercy rather than divine wrath, and which took more account of the fallibility inherent in human nature.

While the humanism taught in the schools of philosophy redefined fundamental principles of faith, it also enabled the absorption of elements of classical antiquity into art, loosened the rigorous ethics that had guided moral thought in earlier centuries, and directed the cultural atmosphere toward to a greater secularization, favoring the displacement of the interest of the supernatural to the mundane and to the human. He also rescued the value of the pure beauty of the forms which had been lost since Antiquity, considering, as St. Thomas Aquinas did, that Beauty was intimately associated with Virtue, deriving from the coordination of the parts of an object among themselves in correct proportions and the full expression of their essential nature. According to Hauser, in this period, called the Gothic,

In this process of valuing the natural the human body was especially benefited, for until then it was seen more as a despicable piece of dirty meat and as the source of sin. This aversion to the body had been an omnipresent note in the earlier religious culture, and the representation of man had prevailed through a stylization that minimized his carnality, but now the symbolic schematism of the Romanicand of primitive Gothic to reach in a short space of time a naturalism that has not been seen since Greco-Roman art. The very figure of the Christ, formerly represented primarily as Judge, King and God, became humanized, and the worship of his humanity came to be considered the first step to know true divine love. The conquest of naturalism was one of the most fundamental of all Gothic, making possible centuries later the even more remarkable advances of the Renaissance in regard to the artistic mime and the dignification of man in his ideal beauty.

The first phase in Florence
The first phase of the Renaissance, which came about until the thirties / forties of the fifteenth century, was an era of great experimentation often enthusiastic, characterized by a technical and practical approach where the innovations and new goals did not remain isolated, but were always taken up and developed by young artists, in an extraordinary crescendo that had no equal in any other European country.

The first discipline that developed a new language was sculpture, facilitated in part by the greater presence of ancient works to be inspired: within the first two decades of the fifteenth century Donatello had already developed an original language compared to the past.

Two Crucifixes
Brunelleschi and Donatello were the two artists who first posed the problem of the relationship between the ideals of humanism and a new form of expression, closely comparing and developing a different style, sometimes opposite. Brunelleschi was about ten years older and served as a guide and stimulus for the younger colleague, with whom he went to Rome in 1409, where they saw and studied the surviving ancient works, trying to reconstruct above all the techniques to obtain such creations.

Their commonality of intent did not however stifle differences in temperament and artistic outcomes. Exemplary in this sense is the comparison between the two wooden crucifixes at the center of an animated anecdote told by Vasari, who sees the criticism of Brunelleschi against the “peasant” Christ of Donatello and his response in the Crucifix of Santa Maria Novella, which left the shocked colleague. In reality it seems that the two works have been carved in a broader time frame, about ten years, but the anecdote is still eloquent.

The Cross of Donatello focuses on the human drama of suffering, which argues with the Hellenistic elegance of Ghiberti, avoiding any concession to aesthetics: the contracted features emphasize the moment of agony and the body is heavy and ungraceful, but of vibrant energy.

The Christ of Brunelleschi, a little more idealized and measured, where the mathematical perfection of forms is echo of the divine perfection of the subject.

The proportions are carefully studied (the open arms measure the height of the figure, the nose line points to the center of gravity of the navel, etc.), reworking the type of Giotto Crucifix but adding a slight twist to the left that creates more privileged points of view and “generates space” around him, that is, leads the observer to a semicircular path around the figure.

In 1406 it was established that the Arts of Florence decorated each of the external niches of the church of Orsanmichele with statues of their protectors. The new sculptural worksite was added to the other large workshop, that of Santa Maria del Fiore, which at the time was dominated by the style close to Lorenzo Ghiberti, which mediated some Gothic elements with quotes from the ancient and a loose naturalness in the gestures, with a moderate openness to experimentation. In this environment Donatello was formed and with him also Nanni di Banco, slightly younger than him, with whom he established a collaboration and friendship.

Between 1411 and 1417 they both worked at Orsanmichele and also in this case a comparison between their most successful works can help to highlight mutual differences and affinities. Both refused the styles of the late Gothic, rather inspired by ancient art. Both also placed the figures in space with freedom, avoiding the traditional ways, and amplifying the plastic strength of the figures and the rendering of the physiognomy.

But if Nanni di Banco in the Four Crowned Saints (1411 – 1414) cites the solemn immobility of the imperial Roman portraits, Donatello in San Giorgio (1415 – 1417) sets a restrained figure, but visibly energetic and vital, as if about to snap from one moment to the next. This effect is obtained through the composition of the figure through geometric and compact shapes (the triangle of the legs open to the compass, the ovals of the shield and the armor), where the slight lateral click of the head in the direction affixed to that of the body maximum evidence, thanks also to the underlines of the tendons of the neck, frowning eyebrows and the chiaroscuro of the deep eyes.

In the relief of the San Giorgio free the princess, at the base of the tabernacle, Donatello carved one of the first examples of stiacciato and created one of the oldest representations of central linear perspective. Unlike Brunelleschi’s theory, however, that he wanted the perspective as a way to subsequently and spatially fix the spatiality, Donatello placed the vanishing point behind the protagonist, in order to highlight the knot of the action, creating an opposite effect, as if the space was unraveled by the protagonists themselves.

The cantons of the Duomo
In the thirties of the fifteenth century a point of arrival and turning point in the sculpture is represented by the realization of the two cantorias for the Duomo of Florence. In 1431 one was commissioned to Luca della Robbia and in 1433 a second of equal size to Donatello.

Luca, who was about thirty years old at the time, carved a balcony from the classic plant where six tiles were inserted and four more were placed between the shelves. The reliefs represented step by step the psalm 150, whose text runs in capital letters on the lower bands, above and below the shelves, with groups of young people who sing, dance and play, composed of classical beauty, animated by an effective naturalness, which expresses feelings in a calm and serene way.

Donatello, returning from a second trip to Rome (1430 – 1432) fused numerous suggestions (from imperial ruins to early Christian and Romanesque works) creating a continuous frieze interspersed with columns where a series of putti dance frantically against the mosaic background (a quote from the façade of Arnolfo di Cambioof the Duomo itself). The construction with the rounded columns creates a sort of stage set back for the frieze, which runs seamlessly based on diagonal lines, which contrast with the straight and perpendicular lines of the architecture of the choir. The sense of movement is accentuated by the vibrant twinkle of the glassy, colored and gold-colored tesserae, which encrust the background and all the architectural elements. This exaltation of the movement was the language in the path of Donatello that the artist then brought to Padua, where he stayed since 1443.

Mediation figures
The next phase, in the central years of the century, was under the banner of a more intellectualistic arrangement of previous conquests. Around the forties of the fifteenth century the Italian political framework was stabilizing with the Peace of Lodi (1454), which divided the peninsula into five major states.

While the political classes in the cities were centralizing power in their hands, favoring the rise of individual dominant figures, on the other the bourgeoisie becomes less active, favoring agricultural investments and assuming models of behavior of the old aristocracy, far from the traditional ideals of sobriety and refusal of ostentation. The figurative language of those years can be defined cultured, ornate and flexible.

Lorenzo Ghiberti was one of the first artists who, together with Masolino and Michelozzo, maintained a positive evaluation of the previous tradition, correcting it and rearranging it according to the novelties of humanistic culture and perspective rigor, in order to update it without subverting it. After the long processing of the North Gate of the Baptistery, still linked to the setting of the 14th century South Gate by Andrea Pisano, in 1425 he received the commission for a new door (today in the East), which Michelangelo later called ” Porta del Paradiso””Between the work it is emblematic of Ghiberti’s” mediation “position, as it blends an incredible number of didactical-religious, civil, political and cultural themes with an apparently clear and simple style, of great formal elegance, which decreed its lasting fortune.

Filarete was one of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s students during the fusion of the North Door of the Baptistery, for this he was entrusted with the important commission of the fusion of St. Peter ‘s door by Eugene IV. The Filarete made above all the study and re-enactment of the ancient. He was one of the first artists to develop a knowledge of the ancient world as an end in itself, dictated by an “antiquarian” taste, which aimed to recreate works in a probably classic style. But his rediscovery was not philological, but rather animated by fantasy and taste for rarity, coming to produce a fantastic evocation of the past. With his stays in Rome and Milan it was a backdrop for the Renaissance culture in Italy.

Jacopo della Quercia
Completely original in the Italian scene was the figure of the Sienese Jacopo della Quercia. His style developed from a very personal renewal of the ways of Gothic sculpture, using influences and stimuli within that language. His training was based on the language of the Sienese gothic, which pruned from the most graceful and, in a sense, cerebral effects. He assimilated the most advanced Florentine researches, of the Burgundian sculpture and the classical heritage, which reinterpreted with originality, giving rise to virile and concrete works, where robust and solid bodies are hidden beneath the complicated folds of Gothic drapery, with an irrepressible vitality.

etween 1406 and 1407 he realized the funeral monument of Ilaria del Carretto in the Cathedral of Lucca, where the iconography derived from the Burgundian sculpture, with the simulacrum of the dead, richly dressed, lying on a catafalque; the sides of the catafalque are decorated with putti reggifestone, a motif taken from classical sarcophagi. In 1409 the Fonte Gaia was commissioned in Piazza del Campo in Siena, where he worked from 1414 until 1419. In the reliefs, in the face of a general system consonant with tradition, he used an extraordinary compositional freedom, with draping that, together with the poses and gestures of the figures, create a game of swirling lines that break the traditional frontality, inviting the viewer to move to discover multiple views of all-round works.

From 1425 to 1434 he worked on the decoration of the central portal of the Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna. The cycle included reliefs with Stories of the Genesis and Stories of the youth of Christ to frame the portal. In the nudes he sculpted powerful and vigorous figures, with strong musculature and with a realism that sometimes appears even rude. Instead of stiacciato Donatello, from the undercut ends, compressed the figures between two invisible planes, with clear lines and shadows reduced to a minimum. The smooth and rounded parts of the figures often alternate between fractures of planes and rigid contours, whose contrast gives off an effect of restrained force, which is unparalleled in the fifteenth-century sculpture. The result is that of concentrated, energetic and expressive characters.

His work did not find immediate successors. It was stylistically a block, which was later understood only by Michelangelo.

The central decades of the fifteenth century

In Florence the next generation of artists elaborated the legacy of the first innovators and their direct followers, in a climate that registered a different orientation of the clients and a new political framework.

Cosimo de ‘Medici after the return to exile (1434) had started the commission of important public works, marked by moderation, the refusal of ostentation. The private works were instead informed by a different taste, such as the David-Mercurio di Donatello (circa 1440-1443), animated by an intellectual and refined taste, which satisfied the needs of a cultured and refined environment. Among the classic quotations (Antinoo silvano, Prassitele) and the homages to the clients (the frieze of the Goliath helmet taken from an antique cameo), the sculptor also imprinted a keen sense of reality, which avoids the fall into pure aesthetic pleasure: the slight asymmetries of the pose and the Monolithic expression, which give life to cultural references in something substantially energetic and real, are witnessed..

In the central decades of the century, the sculptors often took inspiration from the principles of Copia et Varietas, theorized by Alberti, which included repetitions of similar models with slight variations and evolutions, in order to satisfy the articulated taste of the client. Exemplary in this sense is the evolution of funeral monuments, from that of Leonardo Bruni by Bernardo Rossellino (1446 – 1450), to that of Carlo Marsuppini by Desiderio da Settignano (1450 – 1450) to the tomb of Piero and Giovanni de ‘Medici by Andrea del Verrocchio(of the first Laurentian period, 1472). In these works, even if starting from a common model (the arcosolium), we get results that are gradually more refined and precious. But the most important creation was the Chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal in San Miniato al Monte, where various disciplines contributed to create a rich and varied whole.

Donatello in Padua
n Padua a significant and early link between Tuscan humanism and northern artists could develop. Many Tuscan artists were active in the Venetian city between the thirties and forties of the fifteenth century: Filippo Lippi (from 1434 to 1437), Paolo Uccello (1445) and the sculptor Niccolò Baroncelli (1434 – 1443).

Fundamental in this sense, however, was the arrival in the city of Donatello, which left memorable works such as the equestrian monument to Gattamelata and the altar of the saint. Donatello stayed in the city from 1443 to 1453, also requiring the preparation of a shop. The reasons why Donatello left are not clear, perhaps linked to contingent reasons, such as the expiry of the lease of his shop, perhaps related to the Florentine environment that began to be less favorable to its rigorous art. The hypothesis that Donatello had moved at the invitation of the rich Florentine banker in exile Palla Strozzi is not supported by any feedback.

In Padua, the artist found an open, fervent and ready to receive the novelty of his work within a culture already well-characterized. Donatello also absorbed local stimuli, such as the taste for polychromy, the linear expressionism of Germanic origin (present in many Venetian statuary) and the suggestion of the wooden altars or the mixed polyptychs of sculpture and painting, which probably inspired the altar of the Saint.

The altar of the Saint
Perhaps thanks to the positive confirmation of the Crucifix of the Basilica del Santo (1444-1449), around 1446 Donatello received an even more impressive and prestigious commission, the construction of the entire altar of the Basilica del Santo, a work composed of almost twenty reliefs and seven statues bronzee in the round, which worked until the departure from the city. The original architectural structure, dismantled in 1591, has been lost of the most important complex, and knowing the extreme attention with which Donatello defined the relationships between the figures, the space and the point of view of the observer, it is clear that it is a significant loss. The current arrangement dates back to an arbitrary recomposition of 1895.

The original appearance had to remember a three-dimensional ” sacred conversation “, with the figures of the six saints in the round placed around a Madonna and Child under a sort of shallow canopy marked by eight columns or pillars, placed near the arches of the ambulatory, not at the beginning of the presbytery as today. The base, adorned with reliefs on all sides, was a sort of predella.

The general effect must have been that of a propagation of the motion in successive ever more intense waves, starting from the Virgin in the center, which was portrayed in the act blocked to rise from the throne to show the Child to the faithful. The other statues in the round (the saints Francesco, Antonio, Giustina, Daniele, Ludovico and Prosdocimo) have natural and calm gestures, marked by a static solemnity, with an economy of gestures and expressions that avoids expressive tensions too strong and which contrast with the dramatic scenes of reliefs with the miracles of the saint, which are surrounded by some minor reliefs, that is, the panels of the four symbols of the Evangelists and the twelve putti.

The four large panels that illustrate the Miracles of St. Anthony are composed of crowded scenes, where the miraculous event is mixed with everyday life, but always immediately identifiable thanks to the use of lines of force. In the background majestic backdrops of extraordinarily deep architectures open, despite the very low leveled relief. Many themes are taken from ancient monuments, but what is most striking is the crowd, which for the first time becomes an integral part of the representation. The miracle of the donkey is tripartite with foreshortened arches, not proportioned with the size of the groups of figures, which amplify the solemnity of the moment. The Miracle of the repentant sonit is set in a sort of circus, with the oblique lines of the steps that direct the viewer’s gaze towards the center. The miracle of the heart of the avar has a close narration that shows at the same time the key events of history making the observer’s eye a circular motion guided by the arms of the figures. In the Miracle of the newborn, which finally speaks some figures in the foreground, placed in front of the pillars, are larger in size because they are projected illusionistically towards the viewer. In general, the line is articulated and vibrant, with flashes of light enhanced by the gilding and silver (now oxidized) of the architectural parts.

In the Stone Deposition, perhaps due to the back side of the altar, Donatello reworked the ancient model of the death of Melagro ; the space is canceled and only the sarcophagus and a unitary screen of sore figures remain in the composition, upset in their features thanks to facial expressions and exasperated gestures, with a dynamism accentuated by the contrasts of the lines that generate sharp angles above all. The dynamic line, enhanced by the polychromy, stands out. In this work, of fundamental impact for the art of northern Italy, Donatello renounced the principles of rationality and trust in the typically humanistic individual, who in the same years reiterated instead in Gattamelata. These are the first symptoms, read with extreme promptness by the artist, of the crisis of the ideals of the early Renaissance that matured in the following decades.

The equestrian monument to Gattamelata
It probably dates back to 1446 the commission by the heirs of the captain of fortune Erasmo da Narni, called Gattamelata (died in 1443), to build the equestrian monument of the condottiero in the square in front of the Basilica del Santo. The bronze work, which allowed the artist to try the exquisitely classical type of the equestrian monument, was completed in 1453.

Conceived as a cenotaph, it rises in what at that time was a cemetery area, in a carefully studied location with respect to the nearby basilica, that is slightly offset from the façade and the side, in axis with an important access road, ensuring visibility from multiple points of view.

There are no recent precedents for this type of sculpture: the equestrian statues of the fourteenth century, none in bronze, usually surmounted the tombs (like the Scaliger arks); there are precedents in painting, among them the Guidoriccio da Fogliano by Simone Martini and Giovanni Acuto by Paolo Uccello, but Donatello probably derived more from these than the classical models: the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, the Regisole of Pavia and Horses of San Marco, from which resumed the way of the horse that advances to the step with the face facing down.

In any case Donatello created an original expression, based on the humanistic cult of the individual, where human action is guided by thought. In the work, placed on a high basement, the figure of man is idealized: it is not a portrait from the real old and sick man before death, but an ideal reconstruction, inspired by the Roman portraiture, with a precise physiognomy, certainly not casual. The horse has a blocked pose, thanks to the expedient of the ball under the hoof, which also acts as a discharge point for static forces. The leader, with his legs stretched out on the stirrups, fixes a distant point and holds in his hands the stick of the command in an oblique position that with the sword in the scabbard, always in an oblique position: these elements act as a counterpoint to the horizontal lines of the horse and to the vertical of the condottiere accentuating the forward movement, also emphasized by the slight deviation of the head. The monument was a prototype for all subsequent equestrian monuments.

Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta was the active pormotore in Rimini of an important series of works in glorification of himself and his family. The culmination of the ambitious project was the renovation of the church of San Francesco, for decades the Malatesta burial site, in a new Renaissance building, the Malatesta Temple (from about 1450), where Leon Battista Alberti, Piero della Francesca workedand other. Inside there was a rich plastic decoration, which came to overshadow the architectural structure. The pillars at the entrance to each chapel are in fact covered by allegorical or narrative reliefs, sculpted under the direction of Agostino di Duccio. The sculptor of Florentine origin had developed its own fluid style starting from stiacciato Donatello, one with a little ‘cold, ” neo-Attic “. The themes are mostly profane and intertwine complex allegories probably decided by Sigismondo himself, which made the church a sort of humanistic temple, in contrast with Pope Pius II Piccolomini who had excommunicated himin 1460.

The last quarter of the fifteenth century

Niccolò dell’Arca
The Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Niccolò dell’Arca in Bologna (about 1485) is undoubtedly a work without apparent comparisons in the panorama of Italian sculpture of the fifteenth century. The figures are extremely realistic, with a strong expressive expression of pain, which in a couple of subjects becomes an uncontrollable cry of agony, exasperated by the drapery inflated by the contrary wind. The roots of this representation can be found in the Burgundian sculpture and in the last Donatello production, but the most direct connection concerns the activity of Ferrarese painters active in those years in Bologna, in particular Ercole de ‘Roberti to the lost frescoes ofCappella Garganelli.

The work did not have a real following in the Emilian sculpture: the successive and widespread sculptural groups of the Compianto della Modenese Guido Mazzoni dampened the tone of “Dionysian” frenzy towards more peaceful and conventional ways.

Also in Lombardy the sculpture showed an influence from the Ferrara school of painting. The most important construction site of the time, in addition to the decoration of the Milan Cathedral which continued with numerous workers following a rather convivial style, was the sculptural decoration of the facade of the Certosa di Pavia. Among the artists active in the enterprise there are Cristoforo Mantegazza, to whom is attributed the Expulsion of the progenitors (about 1475), where the figures are contorted in a ballet innatulae, with a strong cleariscuro given by the graphic sign, by the strong contour line and from the ragged drapery that comes to look like crumpled paper.

In the Resurrection of Lazarus (about 1474) by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, on the contrary, the setting underlines the depth of architecture in perspective, derived from Bramante’s lesson, with more composed figures but still engraved by deep and abrupt contours, which reveal a certain roughness. typically Lombard.

The Kingdom of Naples
In the Kingdom of Naples under Alfonso V of Aragon the arch of Castel Nuovo was a fundamental episode. A heterogeneous group of sculptors worked there, which was the origin of the disorganity of the whole. To a first team of artists linked to the Catalan-Burgundian ways, a more composite one took place, in which the personalities of Domenico Gaggini and Francesco Laurana stood out, and after the end of the works they remained in the kingdom for a long time.

Gaggini was the progenitor of an authentic dynasty, active above all in Sicily, where he merged local points with the decorative richness of Lombard origin; Laurana instead specialized in more synthetic forms, especially in portraits of evocative and polished beauty that were her most appreciated specialty. For example, in the Portrait of Eleonora d’Aragona (1468, Palermo, Palazzo Abatellis), the effigy is characterized by a rarefied beauty, where the somatic features are reduced to the essential, developing the sense of synthesis and geometric purity of the forms. This idealization approaches the works of Piero della Francesca, which the sculptor probably had to see in Urbino.

Towards the end of the fifteenth century the direct presence of Florentine works and craftsmen, favored by the alliance with Lorenzo the Magnificent, allowed a selection of the inhomogeneous addresses present in the kingdom in favor of the adoration of more strictly Renaissance formulas. The work of Antonio Rossellino and Benedetto da Maiano was fundamental. The latter was responsible for the decoration of the Piccolomini Chapel in the church of Sant’Anna dei Lombardi, where he resumed the scheme of the Florentine chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal, but updated to a richer decorative exuberance according to the taste of the local client.

Between 1479 and 1496 the Florentine ways penetrated directly with the commission of the equestrian monument to Bartolomeo Colleoni, commissioned to Andrea del Verrocchio. His work differs from Donatello’s illustrious precedent also for the stylistic values of the work. At the concentrated and serene gait of Gattamelata, Verrocchio opposed a leader set according to an unprecedented dynamic rigor, with a vigorous and vigorously turned bust, his head firmly aimed at the enemy, his legs rigidly apart with compasses, the gritty and vital gestures.

In the second half of the fifteenth century the sculptors active in Venice were mainly architects or figures, however, linked to their construction sites, which were formed in their shops. For example, it was the case of the two sons of Pietro Lombardo, Tullio and Antonio, who received commissions for grandiose monuments of the Doges, statues and sculptural complexes. The addresses expressed by the sculpture of that period were not homogeneous and ranged from the vigorous and expressive realism of Antonio Rizzo (statues of Adam and Eve in the Arco Foscari), to the mature classicism of Tullio Lombardo (Bacchus and Arianna).

The Tullio Lombardo workshop in particular was entrusted with some funeral monuments of state, which is one of the most complete examples of this type. The funeral monument to doge Pietro Mocenigo (about 1477-1480) has a series of statues and reliefs linked to the figure of “captain da mar”, in the celebration of his victory, albeit modest, against the Ottomans in the Aegean. The monument was set up as the awarding of a triumph, recalling from the ancient some symbolic myths, such as that of the labors of Hercules.

Even more related to ancient models was the funeral monument to the doge Andrea Vendramin (1493-1499), with an architectural structure derived from the Arch of Constantine, which was amplified in the following years. The deceased is represented in the center, lying on the sarcophagus, which is decorated by personifications of Virtue, of Hellenistic flavor. In the lunette the doge is portrayed on a bas-relief, while he adores the Virgin who resembles a classical goddess. Also the plinth, where the elegant inscription in Roman lapidary is found, is rich in symbolic reliefs in style that imitates the antique, even when it represents biblical characters such as Judith. In the lateral niches there were originally ancient statues, today in the Bode Museum (Paggi reggiscudo), in the Metropolitan Museum (Adamo) and in Palazzo Vendramin Calergi (Eva), replaced centuries later by the works of other artists.

The spread of antiquarian fashion then stimulated the birth of a real fashion of old-fashioned bronzes, which had its center in Padua. The most successful interpreter of this genre was Andrea Briosco, known as Il Riccio, who started a production able to compete with the Florentine workshops.

Source from Wikipedia