Andrea del Castagno's "Famous Men and Women"

Josephine Marie Dunn, University of Pennsylvania


Questions of iconography, patronage, chronology, and documentation have confounded appreciation of Castagno's Famous Men and Women. The fresco has been allied with the civic ideals of Coluccio Salutati, the moral prescriptions of Leon Battista Alberti, the nascent historical self-consciousness of Filippo Villani, and the libertarian notions of Alamanno Rinuccini. The identity of Castagno's patron--named as Filippo Carducci, hypothesized to be his cousin, Andrea di Niccolo, and suggested to be Filippo's sons--remains conjectural. A date of execution for the fresco, based on stylistic analysis and ancillary archival data, has been held to be anytime between 1448 and 1451. Yet no scholar has centered his thought on the decisive rapport that surely existed between Castagno, his patron, and the fresco of Famous Men and Women. This investigation is predicated on the belief that the Famous Men and Women are the visual progeny of two confluent minds, patronal and artistic; and, that to separate the personality of Castagno's patron from study of the fresco's meaning is to deny the painting its very raison d'etre. I have studied the Carducci family itself, focusing on their activities and on the immediate world in which they lived. Visual and literary sources which may have prompted or challenged their selection of illustri have been culled to implement understanding of the fresco's meaning to its patron and his peers. This dissertation seeks to provide the Famous Men and Women with a denser historical context; to broaden the documentary base on Carducci patronage of Castagno, and on Pandolfini acquisition of the fresco; and, to situate the Carducci heroes in the mainstream of Quattrocento Florentine thought at mid-century.

Subject Area

Art History|Fine Arts|Art education|Middle Ages

Recommended Citation

Dunn, Josephine Marie, "Andrea del Castagno's "Famous Men and Women"" (1990). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9101150.