Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Michelozzo di Bartolommeo

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 10
Michelozzo di Bartolommeo

by Gerhard Gietmann


An architect and sculptor, born at Florence circa 1391; died 1472. He exercised a quiet, but far-reaching, influence during the early Renaissance, and for more than a decade worked with Donatello, to whom several of Michelozzo's works have been erroneously attributed. The Aragazzi monument in the cathedral at Montepulciano and the Brancacci tomb at Naples are the work of Michelozzo alone, whilst he assisted Donatello in the execution of the tomb of John XXIII. He also modelled several pieces in brass for Donatello, with whom he collaborated on a pulpit for the cathedral of Prato. Ghiberti received important assistance from him on his "Matthew" and on the bronze sacristy door of the cathedral of Florence. Later on, he made bronze casts of some of Luca della Robbia's designs. Among other works at Florence, a silver figure of St. John, a larger replica of which was afterwards made in clay, is certainly the work of Michelozzo alone, while others again are ascribed to him with more or less probability. In San Giorgio Maggiore, at Venice, there is still preserved a wooden crucifix by him. That Michelozzo was influenced by Donatello in his plastic work, cannot be denied; but hs own style was not devoid of originality.

As an architect, it is sufficient to say of him that he was certainly worthy to be compared with Brunelleschi. Being court architect at Florence after 1435, he built the Medici chapel in the church of Santa Croce and undertook the rebuilding of the convent of San Marco, in which the cloister and the ball of the library are his work. He also built the faÁade of the church of Sant' Agostino in Montepulciano. In these buildings he manifested a certain preference for antique forms, though there are also traces of the Gothic influence which was then passing away. Probably his greatest work was the palace of the Medici (afterwards in the possession of the Riccardi), which lost much of its fine balance of mass when it was enlarged. Between this edifice and Brunelleschi's Pitti Palace there is a great resemblance, though the Pitti may be a work of later date. Still Brunellesehi retains the superiority by virtue of his Palazzo di Parte Guelfa. A peculiarity of the Riccardi (Medici) Palace is the gradation of bossage from the base upwards through two stories, after which come smooth stone blocks. The plan, moreover, was afterwards generally imitated. Not very large, but imposing in effect, it presents, below, a colonnade, above, between bold cornices, a wall decorated with antique reliefs, and then an upper story with semicircular, double-light, windows similar to those of the faÁade. The composite capital used here was afterwards generally adopted as a decorative element. To Michelozzo are also due a court in the Palazzo Vecchio and another in the Corsi Palace, as well as a palace built for the Medici in Milan, of which only a small part has been preserved. In this, as also in a palace at Ragusa by the same master, the upper floor had windows with the pointed arches of an earlier style. At Milan his Portinari chapel is still to be seen in Sant' Eustorgio. As compared with Donatello and Brunellesehi, Michelozzo is given the higher place by some critics, though others rank him lower.

WOLFF, Michelozzo di Bartolommeo (Strasburg, 1900); PHILLIPPI, Florenz (Leipzig, 1903); WOERMANN, Kunstgesch., II (Leipzig, 1905).

G. GIETMANN.