Described by Vasari as an “eminent and famous miniaturist” (original text: Galizzi, Vante di Gabriello, p. 976), Attavante was an active member of the workshop of Francesco di Antonio del Chierico, like many others of his generation, from the seventies of the fifteenth century and thereafter. His closeness to the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio was also a significant part of his formation as an artist. The double education received from the two maestros allowed him to skillfully master both book art and monumental painting, an ability that awarded him great fame among his contemporaries. His very prolific production was always intended for commissions of the highest calibre: Mattia Corvino, the Medici family, and Pope Leo X (1513-1521). Modern critics, however, have made a habit of diminishing the artistic splendor of Attavante, emphasizing instead “the monotony of his techniques coupled with an extraordinary executive rigor” (original text: Galizzi, Vante di Gabriello, p. 976). His artistic expression has been distinguished for its sophistication and precision, constructed from both older models and from the style that was developing for the Florentine book in those years, with occasional influences from the Flemish style. His first known work is ms. 5123 (Lyon, Bibliothèque de la Ville, which also contains the detached sheet, Le Havre, Musée des Beaux Arts), dated and signed, “Actavantes de Actavantibus de Florentia hoc opus illuminavit AD MCCCCLXXXIII,” a missal for Thomas James, bishop of Dol-de-Bretagne. He was especially dedicated to the typology of liturgical books and contributed to the making of the Bible of Federico da Montefeltro (Urb. lat. 1-2), an experience that undoubtedly intensified his aptitude for painting, as he was also enriched by continuous exchanges with the other maestros involved in the endeavor.
GALIZZI, Vante di Gabriello, pp. 975-979.
Urb. lat. 1, f. 55v - Urb. lat. 2, f. 2r
Urb. lat. 1, f. 223v - Urb. lat. 2, f. 44v