Andrea della Robbia (1435-1528), Luca’s heir, composes altarpieces with translucent statues on glassy blue backgrounds, hugs the mother to the child in sacred groups, gives to the putti, who in the roundabouts of the portico degl’Innocenti open imploring arms , and elsewhere they hold festoons of fruit or repeat graceful classical motifs of animal fights, gentle features, large astonished eyes, scant life; Luke’s simple grace becomes in him, and more in his followers, a way. Antonio Rossellino (1427-1478), with the works of S. Croce and S. Miniato in Florence and of Monteoliveto in Naples, infuses his brother’s Donatellian wisdom into simple and candid art; Benedetto da Maiano (1442-1497), Matteo Civitali, and later Silvestro dell’Aquila, draw mainly from Antonio Rossellìno, but also from Donatello and Desiderio, an art that is accurate, festive, not great; Mino da Fiesole (1430-1484) accentuates Desiderio’s delicate workmanship of the surfaces, without ever passing beyond the surface, arriving at marble embroideries of unsurpassed finesse and often falling into the complete deficiency of the construction of the bodies.
According to HOLIDAYSORT, this art had its echo in Emilia through Sperandio Mantovano and Vincenzo Onofri, in Liguria and Sicily, through Domenico Gagini, in Lombardy with Pietro da Milano and above all with Giovanni Antonio Amedeo (circa 1447-1522), Pietro from Rho, Andrea Bregno and Luigi Capponi, to Rome with Paolo di Mariano and Gian Cristoforo Romano. In Lombardy, through the work of Caradosso di Foppa (1452-1526), it found a taìe expression that made it appear as a precursor of the sixteenth century.
But among so many more or less distant echoes of Tuscan sculpture, the highest and most isolated voice is the one that resounds in Dalmatia, not in the works, albeit noble, of Giovanni da Traù, but in the others, widespread in Italy and France, by Francesco Laurana da Zara, who finds a distant precursor in the old Gagini, more than in Donatello and his followers, and takes on a parallel place in sculpture to that of Piero della Francesca in painting; he is, that is, a sovereign composer of regular plastic architectures, an opponent of the pictorial tendency given by Donatello to bas-relief, a builder of statues in the round, a very powerful model, which gives full bloom to the reliefs, instead of smoothing them like Donatello. Francesco Laurana stops the passion that overwhelms the Donatellian figures in his marbles, the nervous vibrations of Desiderio’s female portraits, to say only his love for the plastic form, built with perfect geometric regularity. The superb unreality of the Lauranesque figures, accentuated by the sepulchral aspect of the frigid and mute features and of the hazy eyes, is due to the application of a fundamental principle: regularity of volumes within regular volumes, equivalence of empty and full, exactness of meter. The detail is removed or disciplined: the unity of the mass is unbreakable. The prodigious silk knits, the shaved fabrics, wrap the busts of areas in geometry, tighten the statues to their pedestal; they do not disturb the nakedness of geometric shapes.
The Sienese Francesco did not distance themselves from the Florentine art of the generation following Donatello, an art almost fearful of his master’s daring, of the breadth of space he had occupied, researcher, with Desiderio da Settignano, of an unsurpassed ideal of grace, the Sienese Francesco did not distance themselves. di Giorgio (1439-1502), Neroccio di Bartolomeo (1447-1500) and Giacomo Cozzarelli (1443-1515), the last of whom models his polychrome terracottas with refined sensitivity and brings in them an entirely Sienese love for the fluidity of the folds drooping with gentle curves, to the bloodless delicacy of oblong faces. A typical example of this Sienese polychrome sculpture, soft and sensitive in the modeled as a seventeenth-century sculpture, and exquisitely pictorial, is the San Giovanni Evangelista, in the Museo dell’Opera di Siena.
Three artists in Florence were able to look to Donatello not to take advantage of him with the aim of more quiet ideals, but to develop his profound vital energies. They are Bertoldo (died 1491), Antonio del Pollaiolo (1432-1498) and Andrea Verrocchio (1435-1488).
All three masters determined their art in accentuating the movement and nervousness of Donatello’s forms. Verrocchio found a variety of rhythms, now slippery and light, as in the little genius who turns his butterfly body on the pile of a fountain in Palazzo Vecchio, now slow and grave as in the Madonnas with large shapes and broad faces, no longer feminine grace of the Madonnas of Desiderio. Between Donatello’s Gattamelata and Colleoni del Verrocchio is already the abyss: to the solemn calm, the purely constructive research of Donatello, Verrocchio replaces the dramatic representation of the leader who launches himself into dominion, certainly under the influence of Leonardo da Vinci, who he stayed in his studio from 1470 to 1477.
Antonio del Pollaiolo and Bertoldo were only marvelous precursors of the ideal impulses of the following century. The first pushes the nervous life of Donatelli’s sculptures to paroxysm, exasperating the movement of the outlines, feverishly flaking off the bony heads, the angular and broken drapery, giving spasmodic relief to the tendons of the agile and gaunt figures. More faithful to Donatello, Bertoldo also pursues the search for movement, the dramatic enthusiasm, the tumult of the crowds.