Bicci Di Lorenzo, from S.Maria del Fiore to Uzzano
Bicci di Lorenzo, the most important exponent from one of the most prolific workshops in Florence, was an extremely productive painter working in Florence between the late 14th century and the first half of the 15th century. His Casino En Ligne father, Lorenzo di Bicci, was also a famous painter of the typical late Gothic style that was to leave so many masterpieces in 14th century Florence.
With the painting in Florence dominated by the genius of Masaccio and Piero della Francesca, it was certainly not easy for a painter to make a name for himself in that period.
The early painting of the young artist was very similar to his father’s style and it was not until later, under the influence of Lorenzo Monaco and Gentile da Fabriano, that he discovered ways of introducing new vitality into his art, though he was never to be an innovative painter. However his work was extremely pleasing and easily met the tastes of his clients, who frequently showed their appreciation of the clearly popular subjects executed by the artist; this was not only in Florence (with the panel of the Saints Cosma and Damiano in S. Maria del Fiore and the tabernacle of the Canto alla Cuculia in S. Frediano), but also in the surrounding countryside: the painting culture of the Florentine school reached some of the most isolated parishes in the district, thanks to his prolific workshop.
Many of his works can still be admired in the country areas around the city; these include the tabernacle with the Madonna and Child with Saints at Ponte a Greve, also mentioned by Vasari: he also frescoed the pretty shrine in the baptistery of S. Martino a Gangalandi with stories of St. Martin, one of his favourite subjects, which he later repeated in the panel of S. Martino at Uzzano, now in the Church of S. Croce at Greve.
The Uzzano triptych still possesses its original single-cusped Gothic frame. The centre panel contains a classic but delicate painting of the Virgin and Child, with two pairs of Saints in the side panels, among them Bishop Donatus, to whom a small church is dedicated near Greti. The predella contains illustrations of episodes from the life of the saint, and the famous scene of the donation of the cloak to the poor man is certainly worth studying with care; the Crucifxion is in the cusp.
Apart from being taken away from its original setting, the panel was also stolen (in August 1979) and risked disappearing for ever from the list of the works of art in the Chianti countryside. Luckily the police discovered it on the Swiss border, it was then restored and hung in the church of S. Croce at Greve where it can still be worshipped and admired to this day.