Antoniazzo Romano (1430? – 1512?) – an outstanding imitator of great masters

Antoniazzo Romano, frescoes in the Chapel of Cardinal Bessarion, Basilica of Santi XII Apostoli

Antoniazzo Romano, frescoes in the Chapel of Cardinal Bessarion, Basilica of Santi XII Apostoli

His Madonnas with delicate facial features and restrained expression still today move with their beauty. And although we do not know much about him, we can unequivocally state that he was one of the most important Roman painters of the early Renaissance. Thanks to his talent and the ability to adapt to artistic novelties, which he copied from the outstanding artists of that time, he elevated Roman art to new levels. The works of Antoniazzo can be admired in museums all over the world, but in the Eternal City itself he also left behind several exceptional works. They were discovered anew and fully appreciated during a Roman exhibition in 2013 which was devoted to the artist.

Antoniazzo Romano, frescoes in the Chapel of Cardinal Bessarion, Basilica of Santi XII Apostoli
Antoniazzo Romano, Virgin and Child Enthroned,  chapel of Cardinal Bessarion in the Basilica of Santi XII Apostoli
Antoniazzo Romano,  frescoes in the Chapel of Cardinal Bessarion, Basilica of Santi XII Apostoli
Antoniazzo Romano, frescoes in the Convento delle Oblate di Tor de Specchi
Antoniazzo Romano, St. Frances of Rome healing the ill, Convento delle Oblate di Tor de Specchi
Antoniazzo Romano, Madonna Enthroned with the Infant Christ and Saint, Galleria Nazionale dell'Arte Antica,Palazzo Barberini, pic. Wikipedia
Antoniazzo Romano, Nativity with Saints Lawrence and Andrew, Galleria Nazionale dell'Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini, pic. Wikipedia
Antoniazzo Romano, Virgin and Child Enthroned, Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione
Antoniazzo Romano, Madonna Enthroned with the Infant Christ and Saint, Church of Sant’Antonio dei Portoghesi
Antoniazzo Romano, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, Church of San Pietro in Montorio
Antoniazzo Romano, paintings of the ciborium, Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano
Antoniazzo Romano, The Annunciation, Church of Sant’Onofrio
Antoniazzo Romano, Our Lady from the scene of the Annunciation, Church of Sant’Onofrio
Antoniazzo Romano, Legend of the True  Cross, frescoes in the apse of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
Antoniazzo Romano, Legend of the True  Cross, fragment, Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
Antoniazzo Romano, The Crucifixion, Chamber of St. Catherine, Dominican monastery next to the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Antoniazzo Romano, Saint Jerome in the Wilderness, Chamber of St. Catherine, Dominican monastery next to the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Antoniazzo Romano, The Annunciation, Chamber of St. Catherine, Dominican monastery next to the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Antoniazzo Romano, Madonna with the Infant Christ and Saint, Church of Santa Maria di Loreto
Antoniazzo Romano, Madonna Enthroned with the Infant Christ and Saint, Church of Santi Vito e Modesto
Antoniazzo Romano, Virgin and Child with the Saints Peter and Paul, the Chapel of Santa Croce, Basilica of San Pietro in Vaticano, pic. Wikipedia
Antoniazzo Romano, The Lamentation in the company of the Benedictine Sisters, Church of Sant'Ambrogio della Massima, pic. Wikipedia
Antoniazzo Romano, Annunciation  (also attributed to Melozzo da Forli),  Church of Santa Maria ad Martyres (Pantheon)
Antoniazzo Romano, The Annunciation, Basilica of  Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Antoniazzo Romano, Virgin and Child Enthroned, Basilica of Santi XII Apostoli

His Madonnas with delicate facial features and restrained expression still today move with their beauty. And although we do not know much about him, we can unequivocally state that he was one of the most important Roman painters of the early Renaissance. Thanks to his talent and the ability to adapt to artistic novelties, which he copied from the outstanding artists of that time, he elevated Roman art to new levels. The works of Antoniazzo can be admired in museums all over the world, but in the Eternal City itself he also left behind several exceptional works. They were discovered anew and fully appreciated during a Roman exhibition in 2013 which was devoted to the artist.

 

We do not know where he was born and can only assume that it took place sometime between 1430 and 1435. When we encounter him in Rome he is already a mature painter. However, the first documented mention of Antoniazzo dates back to 1464, when along with Melozzo da Forli, he began working on the decorations of the Chapel of Cardinal Bessarion in the Basilica of Santi XII Apostoli. Four years later he was employed in the nearby convent of the Oblate Sisters in order to complete a rather extensive series devoted to a local saint – Frances of Rome (Francesca Romana). It must be added that, at that time in the city on the Tiber there were no significant artists who represented the new style known as the Renaissance. Roman art was still immersed in late Gothic with its characteristic gold background, hieratic perspective and free-standing, static figures. It was then that the papal court brought to Rome, outstanding artists from all over Italy, entrusting them with the decorations of papal apartments and sacral interiors, while private clients commissioned them to adorn the posthumous chapels created by them. And it was these artists such as Melozzo da Forli, Benozzo Gozzoli, Pinturicchio and Perugino that Antoniazzo observed  with intent. He copied their way of painting as well as the perspective, colors, expression, and movement they used in their works. He also took a lot from Pier della Francesca who came to Rome at that time. In the seventies of the fifteenth century, although he was no longer a young man, his art entered a new dimension. Along with Ghirlandaio and Melozzo da Forli he was employed to decorate the interiors of the Apostolic Palace. At the same time along with Perugino he decorated the interior of the Sistine Chapel. And it was this decade of the eighties that proved to be the most fruitful period of his career, when the works he completed, although still simple in creating space and composition, were populated with figures of realistic, often portrayed facial features, full of life and emotions. The last of Antoniazzo’s works and the one that probably attracted the most attention is the Annunciation, in which the painter created an interesting filled with tension scene, immersed in events that was contemporary to him.

 

The last note about the artist is dated 1512, the year in which he once again draws up his will.

The most important works of Antoniazzo Romano in Rome: 

  •     Frescoes in the Chapel of Cardinal Bessarion, image of Our Lady and Child, 1464-1468- Basilica of Santi XII Apostoli
  •     Frescoes (26 scenes) from the life of St. Francisca the Roman, 1468 – Convento delle Oblate di Tor de Specchi
  •     Nativity with St. Andrew and St. Lawrence, Madonna and Child with St. Francis and St. Paul, 1487 – Museo Nazionale d’Arte Antica (Palazzo Barberini)
  •     Madonna and Child, 1465-1470 – Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione
  •     Madonna with St. Francis and St. Anthony – Church of Sant’Antonio dei Portoghesi
  •     The Virgin and Child with St. Anne as well as frescoes of the main nave (God the Father, Solomon and David) – Church of San Pietro in Montorio
  •     Painting decorations of the ciborium – Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano
  •     Legend of the True Cross, 1492 – frescoes in the apse of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
  •     The Annunciation (third chapel on the right) – Church of Sant’Onofrio
  •     The Annunciation of Our Lady (also attributed to Melozzo da Forli) – Church of Santa Maria ad Martyres (Pantheon)
  •     Frescoes (The Crucifixion, The Annunciation, St. Onuphrius and St Jerome, The Deposition, St. John the Baptist) in the Chamber of St. Catherine created in 1637 – a room in the Dominican monastery originally in the transept of the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva
  •     Frescoes depicting the story of the hospital and scenes from the life of Pope Sixtus IV – Ospedale San Spirito (work completed jointly with other artists)
  •     Main altar (Madonna Among Saints) – Church of Santa Maria di Loreto (alleged)
  •     Madonna Among Saints – Church of Santi Vito e Modesto
  •     The Deposition with Benedictine Nuns Bringing Offerings – refractory of the Church of Sant’Ambrogio della Massima
  •     The Annunciation, 1500 – Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva