Orcanga, The Strozzi Altarpiece, 1354-57, Tempera on wood, Cappella Strozzi, Santa Maria Novella, Florence.
Orcagna’s real name was Andrea di Cione, the leading Florentine artist of the third quarter of the 14th century. His nickname 'Orcagna' was apparently local slang for 'Archangel' (Arcangelo). In 1343-44 he was admitted to the guild of the painters and nine years later to that of the masons.His only uncontested work as a painter is the altarpiece of The Redeemer with the Madonna and Saints (1354-57) in the Strozzi Chapel of Sta Maria Novella. This altarpiece is noteworthy for its willful rejection of Giotto’s naturalism and return to a Byzantine style. Colours are dazzling with rich use of gold, and the figures seem aloof and unconnected with humanity or its problems. As a sculptor and architect he is known through one work, the tabernacle in Or San Michele (finished 1359), a highly elaborate ornamental structure housing a painting of the Virgin Enthroned by Bernardo Daddi. Orcagna was capomaestro of Orvieto Cathedral from 1358 to 1362, supervising the mosaic decoration of the façade. He was also an adviser on the construction of Florence Cathedral. During 1368 Orcagna fell mortally ill while painting the St Matthew altarpiece (Uffizi, Florence) and this work was finished by his brother Jacopo di Cione, who worked in his style and continued it to the end of the century.
View of the Strozzi Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence.