Bernardo Rossellino

(c. 1409—1464)

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(b Settignano, nr. Florence, c.1409; d Florence, 23 Sept. 1464) and

(b Settignano, c.1427; d Florence, 1479).

Florentine sculptors, brothers. The family name was Gambarelli, but Antonio's nickname (Rossellino means ‘little redhead’) is now applied to both of them. They had three other brothers who also worked as sculptors, and all five of them seem to have worked together under Bernardo's management. He was an architect as well as a sculptor and he combined both arts in his chief work—the tomb of the great humanist Leonardo Bruni, chancellor of the Florentine Republic, in S. Croce, Florence (c.1444–7). It is based on the monument of the antipope John XXIII (Baldassare Cossa) by Donatello and Michelozzo in the Baptistery in Florence, and although less powerful is more graceful and harmonious: the pilasters framing the serene reclining effigy have a dignity and elegance almost worthy of Brunelleschi. It became the model for the niche tomb for the rest of the century.

Antonio was trained by his brother, and his most ambitious work—the tomb of the Cardinal Prince of Portugal in S. Miniato al Monte, Florence (1461–6)—is based on Bernardo's Bruni tomb. It is more elaborate and concerned with movement than Bernardo's masterpiece, but also a less coherent design, and Antonio was a more distinguished artist when working on a smaller scale. He was a fine portraitist (Giovanni Chellini, 1456, V&A, London) and also made charming reliefs and statuettes of the Madonna and Child, in which he continued the tradition of Luca della Robbia in stressing the naturalness and humanity of the Virgin (perhaps the finest of his reliefs is that in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, known as the Altman Madonna).

Subjects: Art — Architecture.

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