Gherardo di Giovanni, c. 1446-1497
Cartolaio, illuminator, Florentine painter, he supervised a complex workshop with his brother, Monte di Giovanni (Galizzi, Gherardo di Giovanni, pp. 258-262; Id., Monte di Giovanni, pp. 798-801) that was responsible for a large book production, especially for a high-profile patronage, such as Lorenzo de’ Medici (1469-1492; see mss. Plut. 12.1 o Plut. 52.6 of Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence), Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490) and the Aragonese sovereigns, while his relations with the court of Federico da Montefeltro are still elusive (1444-1482), even if new acquisitions allow for some hypotheses to be proposed (see ms. Urb. lat. 329; Labriola, I miniatori fiorentini, pp. 62-63; Ead., Scheda nr. 11, p. 186). The momentous period of Florentine Humanism allowed Gherardo to acquire an eclectic and attractive formation, such as, for example, the cultural influences that affected him from the entourage of Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494) who “will offer the illuminator the intellectual tools in order to produce refined figures” (original text: Galizzi, Gherardo di Giovanni, p. 259). The Giovanni brothers’ career began in the early sixties of the fifteenth century in the shadow of the Badia Fiorentina, for which they provided writing material, produced bindings and “did some work with minium on liturgical codices,” as reported in the accounts of the Badia itself (original text: ibidem, p. 259). Some of the various ties that he formed were those with the convent of San Marco and the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, for which they produced a series of Choirbooks in the mid-seventies (ibidem, p. 259).
The relations with the rulers of the era were also significant: for example, the three-volume Bible for the King of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus (Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, ms. Plut. 15.17) is a precious work celebrating the Magyar ruler. Giovanni’s artistic background was nourished by different contributions which he blends in an original and recognizable way, even if not easily distinguishable from that of his brother. The Flemish but also Leonardesque background related to atmospheric figures is combined with the antiquarian images of the Paduan/Ferrarese area (ibidem, pp. 259-260); The parchment surface treated like a metal foil, embellished by “jeweled settings and cameos with mythological contents” (original text: ibidem, pp. 259-260) is combined with a pronounced attention for the physiognomy and almost psychological introspection of the figures represented.
Miniatura fiorentina del Rinascimento, pp. 267-330; GALIZZI, Gherardo di Giovanni, pp. 258-262; LABRIOLA, I miniatori fiorentini, pp. 62-63; LABRIOLA, Scheda nr. 11, pp. 183-188.
Urb. lat. 329, ff. 45v e 64v