1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Giusto da Guanto

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GIUSTO DA GUANTO [Jodocus, or Justus, of Ghent] (fl. 1465–1475), Flemish painter. The public records of the city of Ghent have been diligently searched, but in vain, for a clue to the history of Justus or Jodocus, whom Vasari and Guicciardini called Giusto da Guanto. Flemish annalists of the 16th century have enlarged upon the scanty statements of Vasari, and described Jodocus as a pupil of Hubert Van Eyck. But there is no source to which this fable can be traced. The registers of St Luke’s gild at Ghent comprise six masters of the name of Joos or Jodocus who practised at Ghent in the 15th century. But none of the works of these masters has been preserved, and it is impossible to compare their style with that of Giusto. It was between 1465 and 1474 that this artist executed the “Communion of the Apostles” which Vasari has described, and modern critics now see to the best advantage in the museum of Urbino. It was painted for the brotherhood of Corpus Christi at the bidding of Frederick of Montefeltro, who was introduced into the picture as the companion of Caterino Zeno, a Persian envoy at that time on a mission to the court of Urbino. From this curious production it may be seen that Giusto, far from being a pupil of Hubert Van Eyck, was merely a disciple of a later and less gifted master, who took to Italy some of the peculiarities of his native schools, and forthwith commingled them with those of his adopted country. As a composer and draughtsman Giusto compares unfavourably with the better-known painters of Flanders; though his portraits are good, his ideal figures are not remarkable for elevation of type or for subtlety of character and expression. His work is technically on a level with that of Gerard of St John, whose pictures are preserved in the Belvedere at Vienna. Vespasian, a Florentine bookseller who contributed much to form the antiquarian taste of Frederick of Montefeltro, states that this duke sent to the Netherlands for a capable artist to paint a series of “ancient worthies” for a library recently erected in the palace of Urbino. It has been conjectured that the author of these “worthies,” which are still in existence at the Louvre and in the Barberini palace at Rome, was Giusto. Yet there are notable divergences between these pictures and the “Communion of the Apostles.” Still, it is not beyond the range of probability that Giusto should have been able, after a certain time, to temper his Flemish style by studying the masterpieces of Santi and Melozzo, and so to acquire the mixed manner of the Flemings and Italians which these portraits of worthies display. Such an assimilation, if it really took place, might justify the Flemings in the indulgence of a certain pride, considering that Raphael not only admired these worthies, but copied them in the sketch-book which is now the ornament of the Venetian Academy. There is no ground for presuming that Giusto ad Guanto is identical with Justus d’Allamagna who painted the “Annunciation” (1451) in the cloisters of Santa Maria di Castello at Genoa. The drawing and colouring of this wall painting shows that Justus d’Allamagna was as surely a native of south Germany as his homonym at Urbino was a born Netherlander.