Cardinal Brancacci's Tomb by Donatello

Cardinal Brancacci's Tomb by Donatello
Cardinal Brancacci's Tomb by Donatello

This sculptural work located in the Church of Sant'Angelo a Nilo in Naples is the result of the intense creative collaboration between the sculptor Donatelloand the architect Michelozzo, one of the great builders of the Italian Renaissance thanks to such an emblematic work as the Palazzo Medici-Ricardi in Florence.


Donatello's Tomb of Reinaldo Brancacci

Undoubtedly here we are before a colossal sculptural work, since it reaches a height of nearly 12 meters. A monumental complex at the height of the deceased whom it must remember, the Cardinal Rainaldo Brancacci.

It was a work in which two years passed from when they received the commission until it was finally delivered. And we must bear in mind that all of it was made in Pisa, in the Tuscany workshop that these two creators shared for a time. And from there it was moved piece by piece to Napoles. Perhaps there Michelozzo's work as a builder gained more influence, because although he was a sculptor, the truth is that the great hand to carve the whole must be Donatello, a master of both relief as seen in works of the Tabernacle style. of the Annunciation as in the round bundle of men as famous as his Judith and Holofernes.

The fact is that this huge tomb has samples of both disciplines, free-standing sculpture and relief.All this made of marble, in addition to the fact that there are parts that are polychrome and gilded. In other words, it is a very scenic work, very theatrical. Even somewhat ahead of its time, which at the same time coexists with somewhat archaic forms inherited from Gothic funerary art, especially regarding the highest part of the monument.

Furthermore, the Neapolitan taste for canopies on a plinth has also been taken into account, which is the base for locating three statues that act as caryatids to support the sarcophagus that will house the remains of the cardinal. And of course, the character's noble shields appear there, as well as various medallions and tondos with biblical figures. There is also the image of the high ecclesiastical official, lying on the sarcophagus, and with that theatrical spirit, two angels are seen ready to close the curtain and let Brancacci rest.

Of the set, for many critics the great jewel is the relief of the Assumption occupying the center of the sarcophagus, with a shape called stacciato or flattened. That is to say, everything has a minimal volume, almost like incisions, and despite this Donatello, which he undoubtedly did, knew how to give the scene tremendous dynamism.

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