Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Daddi and Gaddi Workshops in Florence,

After the death of Giotto in 1337, Daddi was the most outstanding painter in Florence. Daddi supervised an industrious bottega which favoured the production of small devotional panels and mobile altarpieces; he was never comfortable with fresco painting. Daddi’s signed and dated works include  a polyptych of The Crucifixion with Eight Saints (Courtauld Institute, London, 1348), and other works attributed to him include frescos of the Martyrdoms of SS. Lawrence and Stephen in Santa Croce. Daddi was heavily influenced by Maso di Banco, whose monumental treatment of figures can be detected in the St Julian panel, in the Met. We are told by Cennino Cennini that Taddeo Gaddi was a pupil of Giotto for twenty four years, though we can’t determine when he was in the workshop as his birth date is not known. In addition to being part of a workshop, Taddeo must have been working on independent commissions, and Cole speculates that Taddeo may have joined Giotto after the Arena chapel frescoes until the latter’s death.[1] His most famous commission, for which no documentations exist, was the cycle of the Virgin in the Baroncelli Chapel, in Santa Croce. Cole puts it later than Giotto’s Bardi frescoes, which are in Taddeo’s debt. It would be a mistake to see the Baroncelli frescoes as “Giotto-lite”; perhaps it is better to see them as a domestication of Giotto’s style, to use Cole’s word, “homely” in nature. Moreover, Taddeo stamps his own artistic personality on the Baroncelli frescoes with striking “special effects” such as the blinding light of the angel in the Annunciation to the Shepherds.
Taddeo Gaddi, Annunciation of the Shepherds, 1327-30, Fresco, Cappella Baroncelli, Santa Croce, Florence.

View of the Baroncelli Chapel, Santa Croce, Florence. 

[1] Bruce Cole, Giotto and Florentine Painting, 129.

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