1902 Encyclopedia > Sculpture > Italian Sculpture - 13th Century.

(Part 22)

Italian Sculpture - 13th Century.

Till the great revival of plastic art took place in the middle of the 13th century, the sculpture of Italy was decidedly inferior to that of other more northern countries. Much of it was actually the work of northern sculptors,—as, for example, the very rude sculpture on the facade of S. Andrea at Pistoia, executed about 1186 by Gruamons and his brother Adeodatus. Fig. 15 shows a

FIG. 15.—Relief by Benedetto Antelami for the pulpit of Parma cathedral in 1178 ; Byzantine style.

relief by Antelami of Parma of the year 1178. Unlike the sculpture of the Pisani and later artists, these early figures are thoroughly secondary to the architecture they are de-signed to decorate; they are evidently the work of men who were architects first and sculptors in a secondary degree. After the 13th century the reverse was usually the case, and, as at the west end of Orvieto cathedral, the sculptured decorations are treated as being of primary importance, —not that the Italian sculptor-architect ever allowed his statues or reliefs to weaken or damage their architectural surroundings, as is unfortunately the case with much modern sculpture. In southern Italy, during the 13th century, there existed a school of sculpture resembling that of France, owing probably to the Norman occupation. The pulpit in the cathedral of Ravello, executed by Nicolaus di Bartolomeo di Foggia in 1272, is an import-ant work of this class; it is enriched with very noble sculpture, especially a large female head crowned with a richly foliated coronet, and combining lifelike vigour with largeness of style in a very remarkable way. The bronze doors at Monrcale, Pisa, and elsewhere, which are among the chief works of plastic art in Italy during the 12th century, are described in MONREALE and METAL-WORK. The history of Italian sculpture of the best period is given to a great extent in the separate articles on the PISANI [NICCOLA PISANO; GIOVANNI PISANO] (q.v.) and other Italian artists. During the 13th century Rome and the central provinces of Italy produced very few sculptors of ability, almost the only men of note being the Cosmati (see ROME, vol. xx. p. 835).


567-1 The other finest examples of this early class of sculpture exist at Pisa, Parma, Modena, and Verona ; in most of them the old Byzantine influence is very strong.

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