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A History of Art for Beginners and Students

That Leopardo completed and cast it


Next to the sculptors of the Tuscan or Florentine school of this period were those of Venice in importance and independence of manner. This school was much influenced by that of Tuscany because of the nearness of the two cities and the constant communication between them, as well as by the fact that Tuscan sculptors were more or less employed in Venice. One of the earliest Venetian sculptors was ANTONIO GIOVANNI BREGNO, called ANTONIO RIZZO or RICCIO (about 1430-1498?). Although he was born in Verona, and there had the opportunity to study the Roman ruins which are the pride of the city, he is yet essentially an artist of Venice, since he spent most of his life there, and was even at the head of the workshop for the sculptors who worked upon the palace. One little episode in the life of this artist was an expedition to Scutari with the Venetian soldiers, who went to its defence against the Turks. Rizzo showed himself so brave in action, and was so severely wounded, that after his return to Venice the Senate gave him a pension which lasted through twenty years. Rizzo so won the confidence of the Venetians that he was appointed to important offices with large salaries, and it is sad to be forced to add that he proved to be a dishonest man, and when his accounts were examined he fled to Foligno, where he soon died. We will not speak of him as an architect; as a sculptor he is known by statues of Adam and Eve in niches opposite the Giant's Staircase in the Ducal Palace, and by sepulchral monuments in the Church of the Frari. While his works cannot be highly praised for beauty, they do show the style of the Renaissance distinctly.

LOMBARDO is the family name of three sculptors of this period in Venice. They were PIETRO and his two sons, TULLIO and ANTONIO, and the three together are spoken of as the Lombardi. Pietro, the father, was as much an architect as a sculptor, and the works of the father and son are so associated that it is difficult to speak of them separately. We know that Tullio was the superior artist of the three, but there are no works of theirs that command a detailed description here. The monument to the Doge Pietro Mocenigo, in the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, the angels of the font in San Martino, an altar-relief in the altar of San Giovanni Crisostomo, reliefs on the front of the Scuola di San Marco, and two reliefs in the Church of San Antonio at Padua, are the principal sculptures of the Lombardi.

ALESSANDRO LEOPARDO, who flourished about 1490, was the most eminent bronze-caster of his time, and was distinguished for the happy manner in which he adapted classic ideas to his needs in his works.

Very little is known of the life of this sculptor, and that little is not to his credit. He lived in Venice, and had a studio in the Piazza del Cavallo, and in 1487 committed a forgery, for which he was banished from the city. But when Verocchio died, leaving the Colleoni statue unfinished, the Senate desired to have it completed by Leopardo, so they sent him a safe-conduct for six months, and he returned to Venice. As there is no account of his again leaving the city, it is supposed that he was allowed to remain as long as he chose. There has been much difference of opinion as to which artist--Verocchio or Leopardo--should be credited with the excellence of the Colleoni statue. The truth, as near as it can be told, seems to be that Verocchio designed and modelled it, that Leopardo completed and cast it, and made the lofty pedestal upon which it stands, and which, taken by itself, is a splendid work. It is of fine proportions, and has six Corinthian columns, in the capitals of which there are dolphins, while the frieze is composed of trophies and marine animals, all of which are symbols of the City on the Sea which erected the monument.


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