• PISANELLO, Antonio
        (probably 13951455/6)

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      • Antonio Pisanello was the major Italian exponent of Intenational Gothic in succession to Gentile da Fabriano, who was very probably his master. He was trained in Verona, probably under Stefano da Verona, and then went to Venice where he seems to have succeeded Gentile in painting a series of frescoes in the Doge's Palace (1415/22: all burnt); he also succeeded Gentile in Rome, at the Lateran Basilica (1431/2: also destroyed). These were probably works in the International style, and the fact that he succeeded Gentile makes it seem likely that he was regarded as his heir. The earliest extant major work by Pisanello is the Annunciation (1423/4: Verona, S. Fenno) and in it, as in the later St George and the Princess (1437/8: Verona, S. Anastasia), his courtly interests and narrative gifts are clearly shown. In 1438 he made his first datable portrait medal, and it is as a medallist and draughtsman that he is best known. In 1448/9 he made a set of medals of Alfonso of Aragon, King of Naples, and he is known to have been there. The Vallardi Codex (Paris, Louvre) is one of the most important surviving collections of 15th-century drawings, and contains not only Pisanello's own drawings - studies of animals, costume, antiques, sketches for pictures and copies of other drawings but also what seem to be drawings by pupils and by other artists kept in case they came in handy one day. His wonderful studies of animals reveal how sharp his observation was in this typical International Gothic interest, and his portraits confirm this (Bergamo and Paris). The closeness of his ties with Burgundy is demonstrated by the Profile of a Girl (Washington, NG) which is still undetermined between him and the Franco-Flemish School c.1420. The only other paintings by him are in London (NG) and some fragments of frescoes and sinopie rediscovered in Mantua in 1968: good sets of his superb medals are in London (V&A) and Washington (NG).

      • Source: The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists (Penguin Reference Books)

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