Andrea del Castagno (or Andrea di Bartolo di
Bargilla) was an Italian painter from Florence. He was born at
Mugello, near Florence, in 1390, and died in Florence, August 19,
1457. Andrea is of the Florentine school; son of a labourer,
Bartolommeo di Simone; was observed drawing cattle on flat stones by
Bernardetto de' Medici, who, struck with his talent, took him to
Florence and gave him opportunity for study. Baldinucci conjectures
that he was apprenticed to Masaccio, but he was more probably taught
in the school which produced Uccello and Pesellino. He was an intense
realist, full of energy and truth to common nature, but a hard and
inharmonious colourist. The two Crucifixions in the monastery of the
Angell, Florence, which were pointed out as among his earlier works,
are vulgar in type, hard in line and drapery, and without feeling.
Better are the colossal portraits of Heroes and Sibyls which he
painted for a hall in the Villa Pandolfini at Legnaja, now
transferred to canvas and in the Uffizi.
In 1435, Andrea was
commissioned by the Florentine government to paint upon the walls of
the Palace of the Podesta the Peruzzi and the Albizzi, who were
declared rebels after the return of Cosmo de' Medici. From this he
derived his surname of Andrea degli Impiccati (of the Hanged), he
having so represented them. Andrea was employed in 1444, 1446, and
1455 in the Cathedral, Florence, and in 1451 in the hospital of S. M.
Nuova, where he painted various works, a St. Andrew, a Last Supper,
and a series of frescos in the church choir illustrating the life and
death of the Madonna, all now destroyed. Vasari accuses Andrea of
having murdered Domenico Veneziano, out of jealousy of the superior
talent shown by the latter when they worked together at S. M. Nuova;
but his innocence is fully established by the certainty that Domenico
survived him four years.
(image at right is Castagno's
Portrait of a Young Man, ca. 1450.)