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Gentile da Fabriano


ca. 1375 in Fabriano
1427 in Rome

One Work by Gentile da Fabriano

2 Works based on Gentile da Fabriano


Gentile da Fabriano was born around 1370, in 1385 at the latest, in Fabriano in the Marches. Although his father, grandfather and uncle are repeatedly named in the records of the city's municipal and religious institutions, nothing is known about Gentile's youth and artistic training. He is first mentioned on 17 July 1408 in connection with the payment for a picture he was to paint for a client in Venice, one that has not survived. In that same year, Gentile is documented in Venice himself, where he became a member of the Scuola di S. Cristoforo dei Mercanti. His encounter with the Lombard painter and illuminator Michelino da Besozzo, who was staying in Venice in 1410, likely was a lasting influence on Gentile's art. At least his surviving works all exhibit the structural method of the 'International Gothic', which combines ultimate ornamental refinement with stupendous observation of nature and narrative sophistication. Between 1409 and 1411, the painter worked with Pisanello, Jacobello da Fiore and Michèle Giambono on the painting of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Doge's Palace, which was destroyed in 1557. The work obviously brought him the greatest success and, according to sources from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, additional commissions for Venetian churches. Beginning in January 1414, he worked in Brescia, where he created the frescoes, of which only traces survive, in the chapel of the Broletto, the old municipal palace, on commission from the city's ruler, Pandolfo Malatesta. In November 1418 he also delivered a painting to Pandolfo that was destined for Pope Martin V, then staying in Mantua on his journey from Constance to Rome. In September 1419 Gentile, furnished with a safe passage, left Brescia in order to join the pope in Flornece. In March 1420, meanwhile, he was in his home town, where he applied for a tax exemption and at the same time announced that he was staying in Fabriano for the rest of his life. But since between 6 August and 24 October 1420 he paid the annual rent for a house in Florence, he may have settled in Florence even before his visit to Fabriano. In November 1420 he became a member of Florence's painters' guild, and in May 1425 he signed his earliest surviving painting, the 'Adoration of the Kings' now in the Uffizi in Florence, which was commissioned by Palla Strozzi for the sacristy of S. Trinita. In May 1425 Gentile produced for the Quaratesi family the high altarpiece for S. Niccolò sopr'Arno, whose surviving pieces are divided between the Royal Collection, the Uffizi and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. During his stay in Florence, which was obviously quite productive, two assistants are documented, one of whom was perhaps the young Jacopo Bellini. From 22 June to September 1425, Gentile rented a house in Siena. The reason was a commission from the notaries' guild for a polyptych (now lost) for its headquarters. While he worked in Siena, the painter travelled briefly to Orvieto in August 1425 in order to paint the fresco of the Madonna and Child still preserved in the side aisle of the cathedral. He then returned to Siena. From 28 January to 2 August 1427, he is finally documented in Rome in the service of Pope Martin V. There he painted frescoes - again lost - in S. Giovanni in Laterano. The artist died in Rome perhaps as early as August, but at least before 14 October 1427.

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