Education - apprenticed to Giotto di Bondone and Andrea Pisano
Painting Medium - Tempera and gilt on wood
Andrea Orcagna was born into a family of artists and craftsmen. His brothers Jacopo and Nardo di Cione were also well known artists. According to Vasari, Orcagna was the leading Florentine artist of his generation and attributed many great works to him, including the altarpiece of The Redeemer with the Madonna and Saints in the Strozzi Chapel. Orcagna survived the great plague of the late 1340s but the consequences of the pandemic influenced his style and themes. The horrors of the black death pervaded all aspects of Medieval culture and especially art. The effects were lasting, bringing a somber darkness to visual art, literature, and music. The dreadful trauma of this era instigated the imaginations of writers and painters in bleak and disturbing ways for decades to follow. Hell, Satan and the Grim Reaper became favored subjects. With an imagery at once, bizarre, fantastic and inspirational, Orcagna invented an ethereal universe of inspiring beauty - an idyllic and shining Kingdome from which evil, hardship and gloom were eternally forbidden. Even the most eccentric of his paintings, are serene and everlasting in their sincerity. Sadly Orcagna's later years were overshadowed by a dramatic decline of his mental state due to his drunken binges. He died relatively young at forty-eight.Most prominently featured in his work are the holy figures of the Christian faith--the -Christ, Saints, The Cross, Virgin Mary, Chalice, Keys, The Anchor, Wheat , The Good Shepherd, The Apostles, Animals, Fish, Angels, Birds, Insects and Satan.
the triumph of Christianity, Byzantine style artists aspired to
reawaken the divine spirit of holy figures rather than depict their
physical qualities. Their unique style is a
combination of frontal simplicity, truth to nature,
harmonious unity together with precision in details. The use
of costly materials such as gold, precious stones and ivory indicates
the degree of wealth that was common during this period, and attests to
the sophistication of the culture.
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