With Filippino (1457 ?-1504), Botticelli (1446-1510), and Ghirlandajo (1449-1494) we find a degree of imagination, culture, and independence not surpassed by any of the Early Florentines. Filippino modelled his art upon that of his father, Fra Filippo, and was influenced by Botticelli. He was the weakest of the trio, without being by any means a weak man. On the contrary, he was an artist of fine ability, much charm and tenderness, and considerable style, but not a great deal of original force, though occasionally doing forceful things. Purity in his type and graceful sentiment in pose and feature seem more characteristic of his work. Botticelli, even, was not so remarkable for his strength as for his culture, and an individual way of looking at things. He was a pupil of Fra Filippo, a man imbued with the religious feeling of Dante and Savonarola, a learned student of the antique and one of the first to take subjects from it, a severe nature student, and a painter of much technical skill. Religion, classicism, and nature all met in his work, but the mingling was not perfect. Religious feeling and melancholy warped it. His willowy figures, delicate and refined in drawing, are more passionate than powerful, more individual than comprehensive, but they are nevertheless very attractive in their tenderness and grace.
Without being so original or so attractive an artist as Botticelli, his contemporary, Ghirlandajo, was a stronger one. His strength came more from assimilation than from invention. He combined in his work all the art learning of his time. He drew well, handled drapery simply and
beautifully, was a good composer, and, for
Florence, a good colorist. In addition, his
temperament was robust, his style dignified, even grand, and his execution wonder fully free. He was the most important of the fifteenth-century technicians, without having any peculiar dis
tinction or originality,and in spite of being
rather prosaic at times. Verrocchio (I 4 3 5 –
1488) was more of a sculptor than a painter,
but in his studio were three celebrated pupils
—Perugino, Leonardo da Vinci, and Lorenzo di Credi—who were half-way between the Early and the High Renaissance. Only one of them, Leonardo, can be classed among the High Renaissance men. Perugino belongs to the Umbrian school, and Lorenzo di Credi (1450-1537), though Florentine, never outgrew the fifteenth century. He was a pure painter, with much feeling, but weak at times. His drawing was good, but his painting lacked force, and he was too pallid in flesh color. There is much detail, study, and considerable grace about his work, but little of strength. Piero di Cosimo (1462-1521) was fond of mythological and classical studies, was somewhat fantastic in composition, pleasant in color, and rather distinguished in landscape backgrounds. His work strikes one as eccentric, and eccentricity was the strong characteristic of the man.
UMBRIAN AND PERUGIAN SCHOOLS: At the beginning of the fifteenth century the old Siennese school founded by Duccio and the Lorenzetti was in a state of decline. It had been remarkable for intense sentiment, and just what effect this sentiment of the old Siennese school had upon the painters of the neighboring Umbrian school of the early fifteenth century is matter of speculation with historians. It must have had some, though the early painters, like Ottaviano Nelli, do not show it. That which afterward became known as the Umbrian sentiment probably first appeared in the work of Niocolo da Foligno (1430 ?-1502), who was probably a pupil of Benozzo Gozzoli, who was, in turn, a pupil of Fra Angelico. That would indicate Florentine influence, but there were many influences at work in this upper-valley country. Sentiment had been prevalent enough all through Central Italian painting during the Gothic age—more so at Sienna than elsewhere. With the Renaissance Florence rather forsook sentiment for precision of forms and equilibrium of groups ; but the Umbrian towns being more provincial, held fast to their sentiment, their detail, and their gold ornamentation. Their influence upon Florence was slight, but the influence of Florence upon them was considerable. The larger city drew the provincials its way to learn the new methods.