1902 Encyclopedia > Gaddi

Family of painters of early Florentine school

GADDI. Four painters of the early Florentine school— father, son, and two grandsons—bore this name.

1. GADDO GADDI (1239 to about 1312) was, according to Vasari, an intimate friend of Cimabue, and afterwards of Giotto. He was a painter and mosaist, is said to have executed the great mosaic inside the portal of the cathedral of Florence, representing the coronation of the Virgin, and may with more certainty be credited with the mosaics inside the portico of the basilica of S. Maria Maggiore, Rome, relating to the legend of the foundation of that church; their date is probably 1308. In the original cathedral of St Peter in Rome, he also executed the mosaics of the choir, and those of the front, representing on a colossal scale God the Father, with many other figures ; likewise an altarpiece in the church of S. Maria Novella, Florence; these works no longer exist. It is ordinarily held that no picture (as distinct from mosaics) by Gaddo Gaddi is now extant. Messrs Crowe & Cavalcaselle, however, consider that the mosaics of S. Maria Maggiore bear so strong a resemblance in style to four of the frescos in the upper church of Assisi, representing incidents in the life of St Francis (frescos 2, 3, 4, and especially 5, which shows Francis stripping him-self, and protected by the bishop), that those frescos like-wise may, with considerable confidence, be ascribed to Gaddi. Some other extant mosaics are attributed to him, but with-out full authentication. This artist laid the foundation of a very large fortune, which continued increasing, and placed his progeny in a highly distinguished worldly position.

2. TADDEO GADDI (about 1300-1366, or later), son of Gaddo, was born in Florence, and became one of Giotto's most industrious assistants for a period (as usually stated) of 24 years. This can hardly be other than an exaggera-tion; it is probable that he began painting on his own account towards 1330, when Giotto went to Naples. Taddeo also traded as a merchant, and had a branch esta-blishment in Venice. He was a painter, mosaist, and archi-tect. He executed in fresco, in the Baroncelli (now Giugni) chapel, in the Florentine church of S. Croce, the Virgin and Child between Four Prophets, on the funeral, monument at the entrance, and on the walls various incidents in the legend of the Virgin, from the Expulsion of Joachim from the Temple up to the Nativity. In the subject of the Pre-sentation of the Virgin in the Temple are the two heads traditionally accepted as portraits of Gaddo Gaddi and Andrea Tafi ; they cannot, at any rate, be portraits of those artists from the life. On the ceiling of the same chapel are the Eight Virtues. In the museum of Berlin is an altar-piece by Taddeo, the Virgin and Child and some other sub-jects, dated 1334 ; in the Naples Gallery, a triptych, dated 1336, of the Virgin enthroned along with Four Saints, the Baptism of Jesus, and his Deposition from the Cross ; in the sacristy of S. Pietro a Megognano, near Poggibonsi, an altarpiece dated 1355, the Virgin and Child enthroned amid Angels. A series of paintings, partly from the life of S. Francis, which Taddeo executed for the presses in S. Croce, are now divided between the Florentine Academy and the Berlin Museum ; the compositions are taken from or founded on Giotto, to whom, indeed, the Berlin authorities have ascribed their examples. Taddeo also painted some frescos still extant in Pisa, besides many in S. Croce and other Florentine buildings, which have perished. He deservedly ranks as one of the most eminent successors of Giotto ; it may be said that he continued working up the material furnished by that great painter, with comparatively feeble inspiration of his own. His figures are vehement in action, long and slender in form ; his execution rapid and somewhat conventional To Taddeo are generally ascribed the celebrated frescos—those of the ceiling and left or western wall—in the Cappella degli Spagnuoli, in the church of S. Maria Novella, Florence ; this is, however, open to considerable doubt, although it may perhaps be conceded that the designs for the ceiling were furnished by Taddeo. Dubious also are the three pictures ascribed to him in the London National Gallery. As a mosaist, he has left some work in the baptistery of Florence. As an archi-tect, he supplied in 1336 the plans for the present Ponte Vecchio, and those for the original (not the present) Ponte S. Trinità ; in 1337 he was engaged on the church of Orsan-Michele ; and he carried on after Giotto's death the work of the unrivalled Campanile.

3. AGNOLO GADDI, born in Florence, was the son of Taddeo ; the date of his birth has been given as 1326, but possibly 1350 is nearer the mark. He was a painter and mosaist, trained by his father, and a merchant as well ; in middle age he settled down to commercial life in Venice, and he added greatly to the family wealth. He died in October 1396. His paintings show much early promise, hardly sustained as he advanced in life. One of the earliest, at S. Jacopo tra' Fossi, Florence, represents the Besurrection of Lazarus. Another probably youthful per-formance is the series of frescos of the Pieve di Prato— legends of the Virgin and of her Sacred Girdle, bestowed upon St Thomas, and brought to Prato in the 11th century by Michele dei Dagomari ; the Marriage of Mary is one of the best of this series, the later compositions in which have suffered much by renewals. In S. Croce he painted, in eight frescos, the legend of the Cross, beginning with the Archangel Michael giving Seth a branch from the tree of knowledge, and ending with the Emperor Heraclius car-rying the Cross as he enters Jerusalem ; in this picture is a portrait of the painter himself. Agnolo composed his subjects better than Taddeo ; he had more dignity and individuality in the figures, and was a clear and bold colourist ; the general effect is laudably decorative, but the drawing is poor, and the works show best from a distance. Various other productions of this master exist, and many have perished. Cennino Cennini, the author of the celebrated treatise on painting, was one of his pupils.

4. GIOVANNI GADDI, brother of Agnolo, was also a painter of promise. He died young. (w. M. E.)

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