The cultural and artistic events of Italy during the period 1400 to 1499 are collectively referred to as the Quattrocento (Italian pronunciation: [ˌkwattroˈtʃɛnto]) from the Italian for the number 400, in turn from millequattrocento, which is Italian for the year 1400. The Quattrocento encompasses the artistic styles of the late Middle Ages (most notably International Gothic), the early Renaissance (beginning around 1425), and the start of the High Renaissance, generally asserted to begin between 1495 and 1500.
After the decline of the Western Roman Empire in 476, economic disorder and disruption of trade spread across Europe. This was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages, which lasted roughly until the 11th century, when trade picked up, population began to expand and the papacy regained its authority.
In the late Middle Ages, the political structure of the European continent slowly evolved from small, highly unstable fiefdoms into larger nation states ruled by monarchies, thereby providing greater stability. In Italy, urban centers arose that were populated by merchant and trade classes, who were able to defend themselves. Money replaced land as the medium of exchange, and increasing numbers of serfs became freedmen. The changes in Medieval Italy and the decline of feudalism paved the way for social, cultural, and economic changes.
Quattrocento art shed the decorative mosaics typically associated with Byzantine art along with the Christian and Gothic media of and styles in stained glass, frescoes, illuminated manuscripts and sculpture. Instead, Quattrocento artists and sculptors incorporated the more classic forms developed by Roman and Greek sculptors.
Since the Quattrocento overlaps with part of the Renaissance, it would be inaccurate to say that a particular artist was Quattrocento or Renaissance. Artists of the time probably would not have identified themselves as members of a school or period.
Antonello da Caserta, also Anthonello, Antonellus Marot, was an Italian composer of the medieval era, active in the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
Essentially nothing is known of Antonello's life. Earlier in the 20th century, Nino Pirrotta thought Caserta was a Neapolitan composer, but because most of his surviving works are in northern Italian manuscripts, this is disputed. Allusions in his texts suggest that he worked for the Visconti family in Milan around the turn of the 15th century, and archival documents place him in Pavia in 1402. Antonello was a monk, though the order to which he belonged is not known.
Antonello da Caserta is one of the more renowned composers of the generation after Guillaume de Machaut. Antonello set texts in both French and Italian, including Beauté parfaite of Machaut; this is the only surviving musical setting of a poem by Machaut which is not by Machaut himself. He was highly influenced by French musical models, one of the first Italians to be so. One of his ballades quotes Jehan Vaillant, a composer active in Paris. He also made use of irregular mensuration signs, found in few other manuscripts. He also uses proportional rhythms in some ballades, a device which became more popular in later periods. His Italian works tend to be simpler, especially the ballate. Both his French and Italian works take as their subjects courtly love.Antonello da Messina
Antonello da Messina, properly Antonello di Giovanni di Antonio, but also called Antonello degli Antoni and Anglicized as Anthony of Messina (c. 1430 – February 1479), was an Italian painter from Messina, Sicily, active during the Early Italian Renaissance. His work shows strong influences from Early Netherlandish painting although there is no documentary evidence that he ever travelled beyond Italy. Giorgio Vasari credited him with the introduction of oil painting into Italy. Unusually for a south Italian artist of the Renaissance, his work proved influential on painters in northern Italy, especially in Venice.Antonio del Pollaiolo
Antonio del Pollaiuolo (17 January 1429/1433 – 4 February 1498), also known as Antonio di Jacopo Pollaiuolo or Antonio Pollaiuolo, was an Italian painter, sculptor, engraver and goldsmith during the Italian Renaissance.Bartolomeo Vivarini
Bartolomeo or Bartolommeo Vivarini (c. 1432 – c. 1499) was an Italian Renaissance painter, known to have worked from 1450 to 1499.Carlo Crivelli
Carlo Crivelli ( Venice c. 1430 – Ascoli Piceno 1495) was an Italian Renaissance painter of conservative Late Gothic decorative sensibility, who spent his early years in the Veneto, where he absorbed influences from the Vivarini, Squarcione and Mantegna. He left the Veneto by 1458 and spent most of the remainder of his career in the March of Ancona, where he developed a distinctive personal style that contrasts with that of his Venetian contemporary Giovanni Bellini.Cosimo Rosselli
Cosimo Rosselli (1439–1507) was an Italian painter of the Quattrocento, active mainly in his birthplace of Florence, but also Lucca earlier in his career, and from 1480 in the Sistine Chapel in Rome, where he painted some of the large fresco panels on the side walls. Despite being roughly the same age (slightly older in each case) as Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino and Domenico Ghirlandaio, the other leading Florentine painters, all regarded as greater talents, Rosselli was still able to win several large commissions, which is a testament to the high level of activity in the city.
He painted almost entirely religious subjects, with a few portraits. He did other large frescos with his workship, from which Fra Bartolomeo and Piero di Cosimo, who married Roselli's daughter, were his most famous pupils. These include a chapel in Sant'Ambrogio, Florence and one of the large spaces in the cloister of Santissima Annunziata, Florence.Cosimo Tura
Cosimo Tura (c. 1430 – 1495), also known as Il Cosmè or Cosmè Tura (Italian pronunciation: [koˈzmɛ ˈtuːra]), was an Italian early-Renaissance (or Quattrocento) painter and considered one of the founders of the School of Ferrara.
Born in Ferrara, he was a student of Francesco Squarcione of Padua. Later he obtained patronage from both Dukes Borso and Ercole I d'Este. By 1460, he was given a stipend by the Ferrarese Court. His pupils include Francesco del Cossa and Francesco Bianchi. He appears to have been influenced by Mantegna's and Piero della Francesca's Quattrocento styles.
In Ferrara, he is well represented by frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoia (1469–71). This pleasure palace, with facade and architecture of little note, belonged to the d'Este family and is located just outside the medieval town walls. Cosimo, along with Francesco del Cossa, helped produce an intricately conceived allegorical series about the months of the year and zodiac symbols. The series contains contemporary portraits of musicians, laborers, and carnival floats in idyllic parades. As in Piero della Francesca's world, the unemotive figures mill in classical serenity.
He also painted the organ doors for the Duomo showing the Annunciation (1469). He collaborated in the painting of a series of "muses" for a Studiolo of the Palace Belfiore of Leonello d'Este in Ferrara, including the allegorical figure of Calliope at the National Gallery (see image). While the individual attributions are often debated, among the artists thought to complete the series were Angelo di Pietro da Sienna, also called Maccagnino or Angelo Parrasio, and Michele Pannonio.Filippo Lippi
Fra' Filippo Lippi, O.Carm. (c. 1406 – 8 October 1469), also called Lippo Lippi, was an Italian painter of the Quattrocento (15th century).Francesco di Giorgio Martini
Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439–1501) was an Italian architect, engineer, painter, sculptor, and writer. As a painter, he belonged to the Sienese School. He was considered a visionary architectural theorist—in Nikolaus Pevsner's terms: "one of the most interesting later Quattrocento architects". As a military engineer, he executed architectural designs and sculptural projects and built almost seventy fortifications for the Federico da Montefeltro, Count (later Duke) of Urbino, building city walls and early examples of star-shaped fortifications.
Born in Siena, he apprenticed as a painter with Vecchietta. In panels painted for cassoni he departed from the traditional representations of joyful wedding processions in frieze-like formulas to express visions of ideal, symmetrical, vast and all but empty urban spaces rendered in perspective.
He composed an architectural treatise Trattato di architettura, ingegneria e arte militare, the third of the Quattrocento, after Leone Battista Alberti's and Filarete's; he worked on it for decades and finished sometime after 1482; it circulated in manuscript. The projects were well in advance of completed projects at the time, but innovations, for example in staircase planning, running in flights and landings round an open center, or dividing at a landing to return symmetrically on each wall, became part of architectural vocabulary in the following century. The third book is preoccupied with the "ideal" city, constrained within star-shaped polygonal geometries reminiscent of the star fort, whose wedge-shaped bastions are said to have been his innovation.
Francesco di Giorgio finished his career as architect in charge of the works at the Duomo di Siena, where his bronze angels are on the high altar and some marble floor mosaics are attributed to his designs. The design of the church of San Sebastiano in Vallepiatta in Siena is also attributed to him.
Di Giorgio's painting of the "Madonna and Child with 2 Angels" is found at the Lowe Art Museum in Coral Gables, Florida.Gherardo Starnina
Gherardo Starnina (c. 1360–1413) was an Italian painter from Florence in the Quattrocento era.
According to the biographer Giorgio Vasari, Starnina initially trained with Antonio Veneziano, then with Agnolo Gaddi. He is claimed to have participated in the painting of the frescos in the Castellani Chapel in Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence. He is also said to have moved to Spain in 1380 to work under Juan I of Castile, and is attributed some painting in the San Blas chapel of the Cathedral of Toledo.
Several paintings formerly attributed to the Master of the Bambino Vispo are now attributed to Gherardo Starnina, and the two artists may have been the same person.Giovanni Bellini
Giovanni Bellini (Italian pronunciation: [dʒoˈvanni belˈliːni]; c. 1430 – 26 November 1516) was an Italian Renaissance painter, probably the best known of the Bellini family of Venetian painters. His father was Jacopo Bellini, his brother was Gentile Bellini (who was more highly regarded than Giovanni during his lifetime, although the reverse is true today), and his brother-in-law was Andrea Mantegna. He was considered to have revolutionized Venetian painting, moving it towards a more sensuous and colouristic style. Through the use of clear, slow-drying oil paints, Giovanni created deep, rich tints and detailed shadings. His sumptuous coloring and fluent, atmospheric landscapes had a great effect on the Venetian painting school, especially on his pupils Giorgione and Titian.Jacopo Bellini
Jacopo Bellini (c. 1400 – c. 1470) was one of the founders of the Renaissance style of painting in Venice and northern Italy. His sons Gentile and Giovanni Bellini, and his son-in-law Andrea Mantegna, were also famous painters.
Few of Bellini's paintings still exist, but his surviving sketch-books (one in the British Museum and one in the Louvre) show an interest in landscape and elaborate architectural design and are his most important legacy. His surviving works show how he accommodated linear perspective to the decorative patterns and rich colors of Venetian painting.Masaccio
Masaccio (Italian: [maˈzattʃo]; December 21, 1401 – summer 1428), born Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone, was a Florentine artist who is regarded as the first great Italian painter of the Quattrocento period of the Italian Renaissance. According to Vasari, Masaccio was the best painter of his generation because of his skill at imitating nature, recreating lifelike figures and movements as well as a convincing sense of three-dimensionality. He employed nudes and foreshortenings in his figures. This had seldom been done before him. The name Masaccio is a humorous version of Maso (short for Tommaso), meaning "clumsy" or "messy" Tom. The name may have been created to distinguish him from his principal collaborator, also called Maso, who came to be known as Masolino ("little/delicate Tom").
Despite his brief career, he had a profound influence on other artists and is considered to have started the Early Italian Renaissance in painting with his works in the mid- and late-1420s. He was one of the first to use linear perspective in his painting, employing techniques such as vanishing point in art for the first time. He moved away from the International Gothic style and elaborate ornamentation of artists like Gentile da Fabriano to a more naturalistic mode that employed perspective and chiaroscuro for greater realism.
Masaccio died at the age of twenty-six and little is known about the exact circumstances of his death. Upon hearing of Masaccio’s death, Filippo Brunelleschi said: "We have suffered a great loss."Matteo da Perugia
Matteo da Perugia (fl. 1400–1416) was a Medieval Italian composer, presumably from Perugia. From 1402 to 1407 he was the first magister cappellae of the Milan Cathedral; his duties included being cantor and teaching three boys selected by the Cathedral deputies.
Little is known about his life apart from this. Willi Apel asserted that he was the principal composer of his generation, but this claim was challenged by Heinrich Besseler, and Matteo's historical position remains an open question. Neither has there yet been a thorough stylistic study of his compositions. He wrote many contra-tenors to existing works, which resulted in many of these being wrongly ascribed to him. Matteo wrote in many forms, including the virelai, the ballade, and the rondeau. One of his patrons was Antipope Alexander V.Ottaviano Nelli
Ottaviano Nelli (1375–1444) was an Italian painter of the early Quattrocento.Paolo da Firenze
Paolo da Firenze (Paolo Tenorista, "Magister Dominus Paulas Abbas de Florentia") (c. 1355 – after September 20, 1436) was an Italian composer and music theorist of the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the transition from the musical Medieval era to the Renaissance. More surviving music of the Italian ars nova is attributable to Paolo than to any other composer except for Francesco Landini.Piero del Pollaiolo
Piero del Pollaiuolo (c. 1443 – 1496), also known as Piero Benci, was an Italian Renaissance painter from Florence. His brother was the artist Antonio del Pollaiuolo and the two frequently worked together. Their work shows both classical influences and an interest in human anatomy; reportedly, the brothers carried out dissections to improve their knowledge of the subject.
He died in Rome in 1496.
Giorgio Vasari includes a biography of Pollaiuolo in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects.Pietro Perugino
Pietro Perugino (Italian: [ˈpjɛːtro peruˈdʒiːno]; c. 1446/1452 – 1523), born Pietro Vannucci, was an Italian Renaissance painter of the Umbrian school, who developed some of the qualities that found classic expression in the High Renaissance. Raphael was his most famous pupil.Silvestro de Buoni
Silvestro de Buoni (died 1484) was an Italian painter of the early-Renaissance period, specifically the Quattrocento in Naples. Also called Silvestro de Buono, son of Buono de' Buoni. He was the pupil of the painter Lo Zingaro and Donzelli. He is sometimes confused with Silvestro Morvillo. He painted an Assumption of the Virgin for San Pietro Martire of Naples.