Gentile di Niccolò
was named after his hometown of Fabriano, where he was born around 1370.
He represents one of the greatest interpreters of the international
gothic era. He was educated during a period in which Fabriano enjoyed a
culturally lively and stimulating climate, being home to a school of
artists under the instruction of Giotto and Lorenzetti, and who upon
leaving, went on to develop a real qualitatively interesting language.
Gentile moved to the greater cities of central northern Italy, in 1408
his presence is documented in Venice, where he was made spokesman of a
new artistic language in respect of the predominant Byzantine culture.
He completed a fresco for the Doges’ Palace of Venice, which
unfortunately was subsequently lost in a fire. It was during this period,
on commission from Chiavello Chiavelli, a gentleman from Fabriano, that
he completed the Polittico di Val Romita, which is today conserved in the Pinacoteca
di Brera in Milan.
Of the work, only nine panels remain (the one of the Crucifixion being
lost) in which the distinctive features of the painter can already be
seen: his stylistic elegance, attention to detail and his use of gold
and opulent colours. In the 20s he worked in Florence, Siena, Orvieto
and Rome, where he carried out, on a commission basis for Pope Martino
V, a series of frescoes in San Giovanni in Laterano, unfortunately
destroyed following a refurbishment of the church.
His works are conserved in some of the most prestigious museums in Italy
and abroad, such as the Staatliche Museum of Berlin, the Metropolitan
Museum of New York and the National Gallery of Washington.
is possibly most well known for his masterpiece of the gothic courtly
style the Adoration of the
Magi, executed on
commission for Pala Strozzi in 1423 for the altarpiece of the family
chapel in the church of Santa Trinita in Florence (today in the Uffizi).
The representation, with the sacred family to the left and to the right
the long procession of the Magi who disperse until the end, fully
expresses the courtly taste of that period for refined technical
execution, the use of deep gold on which the sinuous lines move and the
meticulous attention to detail. He combined graceful expressions, fine
dresses and elegant movements. More than the Christian significance, the
fairy-tale atmosphere recalls a rich and aristocratic world, in keeping
with the refined taste of the court environment.
Polittico Quaratesi (1425) was one of the last works of
the artist who died two years later in Rome. He achieved the great
altarpiece of the San Nicolò sopr’Arno Church in Florence which is
today scattered among various museums including the National Gallery of
London and the National Gallery of Washington. In Rome, near the
Pinacoteca Vatica, four panels can also be seen from the Story of Saint Nicholas (Storie
di San Nicola di Bari).