Andrea Orcagna (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: In paintings and in sculptural and architectural projects combining religious intensity with naturalism, Orcagna extended the expressive range of Italian art in the mid-fourteenth century.
Little is known of Orcagna’s early life; even the date of his birth is conjectural. In Le vite de’ più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani (1550; Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, 1842-1859), Giorgio Vasari states that Orcagna lived to the age of sixty. This fact, together with the reasonable assumption that he died in 1368, is the only basis for claiming 1308 as the year of his birth.
The name “Orcagna” is derived from “Arcagnuolo”; the artist’s actual name was Andrea di Cione, and it is known that his three brothers were also artists: Nardo, probably older than Andrea, and two younger brothers, Matteo and Jacopo. While still a child, according to Vasari, Orcagna began to study sculpture under Andrea Pisano and only after some years took up drawing and painting. Orcagna had achieved some recognition as a painter by 1346, but it was not until 1352 that he became a member of the Florentine stonemason’s guild responsible for works of sculpture; thus Vasari’s claim may be incorrect. The uncertainty is not a matter of very great importance, however, because Orcagna’s career, like those of many artists of his time,...
(The entire section is 1722 words.)
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