documented in Florence from 1503 to 1527

The Nativity

tempera on panel
68×52 cm

The name Maestro dei Cassoni Campana comes from an article by Federico Zeri (F. Zeri, Una congiunzione tra Firenze e Francia: il Maestro dei cassoni Campana, in ‘Diari di lavoro’, II, 1976, pp. 75-87) where the scholar reconstructed the artistic personality of this painter, defining him d’oltralpe, starting from four spalliere, at the time believed to be cassoni, conserved in the Campana collection at the Musée du Petit Palais in Avignon. Recently, Annamaria Bernacchioni proposed recognizing Antonio di Jacopo Gallo as the anonymous Maestro dei Cassoni Campana. Antonio was documented in Florence between 1503 and 1527, a chronological period that would match Maestro Campana’s production and style influences.
In the meantime the catalogue of this painter has increased considerably and now it’s possible a better comprehension of his stylistic development. The link between this painting and that of the same subject kept at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge (Inv. 1962-288) is unquestionable, although it has more naïve tones. Other strong similarities notice with the paintings dated around 1515 in the Gerini collection in Florence, in the Stössel collection in Zurich and in the Signorini Corsi in L’Aquila.
The state of preservation is excellent and it is possible to observe all the technique and stylistic qualities of the artist: the background with a fairy-tale landscape, the swollen eyes of some of the characters and the stereotyped faces. The composition can be placed in the middle of the second decade of the sixteenth century. This proposal can be supported by the luministic and chromatic features, which emerge in particular in the landscape and in the forest. This is a clear reference to the paintings by Piero di Cosimo, an inescapable reference in Florence in the first decades of the century. For the composition the painting clearly references to the artworks by Domenico Ghirlandaio and Lorenzo di Credi. The painting reveals an artist who was able to think deeply about the most important Florentine pictorial proposals of the era, returning what he had learned with a personal and unique stylistic take.