Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Agnolo, Giovanni, and Taddeo Gaddi

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 6
Agnolo, Giovanni, and Taddeo Gaddi

by George Charles Williamson


Florentine artists, Taddeo being the father of Agnolo and Giovanni. The dates of their birth are very uncertain. Taddeo was probably born about 1300; Agnolo and Giovanni after 1333. The father died in 1366, Giovanni in 1383, Agnolo in 1396, and all three are buried in Santa Croce in Florence. Taddeo was the godson of Giotto, lived with him twenty-four years, and became the most eminent of his numerous scholars. Vasari says that he "surpassed his master in colour", and, in some of his works, "even in expression". Two paintings signed by him are in existence - one in Berlin, dated 1333, and another in the church of Mogognano, dated 1355. The best of his extant frescoes are those in the Giugni Chapel, formerly belonging to the Baroncelli family, in the church of Santa Croce, but his most extensive works, in the churches of San Spirito and the Serviti, have all disappeared. Many of his frescoes and several of his most celebrated altar-pieces have entirely disappeared. His principal work was in Florence, but he also executed several examples in Arezzo and in the Casentino. Perhaps he is best known for the fact that he was a distinguished architect, and designed the present Ponte Vecchio in Florence, and also lower down the river a still finer bridge (Ponte Trinita), which was destroyed in the sixteenth century. He was very successful, and amassed great wealth.

His son Agnolo entered the studios of Giovanni da Milano and Jacopo del Casentino; his best work is in the cathedral at Prato, where there are thirteen frescoes illustrating the story of the Holy Girdle, and in the church of Santa Croce at Florence, where there are eight panels by him, commemorating the legend of the Cross. His earliest work, according to Vasari, illustrated the story of Christ raising Lazarus, and was regarded as the most wonderful painting of a dead body that had ever been seen. He was the master of an even more celebrated man, Cennino Cennini, the author of an important treatise on painting in fresco, distemper, and other media, which is the chief source of our information respecting the technic of the early Florentine artists, and also of a book, the importance of which, especially with regard to tempera painting and the application of gold, can hardly be over-estimated. Giovanni Gaddi, the brother and pupil of Agnolo, was a man of much less importance, and hardly any works now remain which can be attributed to him with certainty, as in the rebuilding of San Spirito at Florence most of his work was destroyed.

GEORGE CHARLES WILLIAMSON