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MELOZZO DA FORLI (c.1438–1494)

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 100 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MELOZZO DA FORLI (c.1438–1494), Italian painter, the first who practised foreshortening with much success, was born at Forli about 1438; he came, it is supposed, of a wealthy family named Ambrosi. In all probability, Melozzo studied painting under Piero de' Franceschi, of Borgo St Sepolcro; he seems also to have been well acquainted with Giovanni Santi, the father of Raphael. It has been said that he became a journeyman and colour-grinder to some of the best masters, in order to prosecute his studies; this lacks confirmation. Only three works are extant which can safely be assigned to Melozzo: those in the Louvre, the National Gallery, London, and the Barberini Palace, Rome, are disputable. (I) He painted in 1472 the vault of the chief chapel in the church of the Apostoli in Rome, his subject being the " Ascension of Christ "; the figure of Christ is so boldly and effectively foreshortened that it seems to "burst through the vaulting "; this fresco was taken down in 1711, and the figure of Christ is now in the Quirinal Palace, not worthy of special admiration save in its perspective quality; while some of the other portions, almost Raphaelesque in merit, are in the sacristy of St Peter's. (2) Between 1475 and148g'he executed a fresco, now transferred to canvas, and placed in the Vatican picture-gallery, representing the appointment of Platina by Pope Sixtus IV. as librarian of the restored Vatican library. (3) In the Collegio at Forli is a fresco by Melozzo, termed the " Peetapepe," or Pepper-grinder, originally painted as a grocer's sign; it is an energetic specimen of rather coarse realism, now much damaged. Melozzo also painted the cupola of the Capuchin church at Forli, destroyed in 1651; and it has been said that he executed at Urbino some of the portraits of great men (Plato, Dante, Sixtus IV., &c.) which are now divided between the Barberini Palace and the Campana collection in Paris; this, however, is doubtful, and it is even questionable whether Melozzo was ever at Urbino. In Rome he was one of the original members of the• academy of St Luke, founded by Sixtus IV. He returned to Forli, probably towards 148o, and died in November 1494. He contributed sensibly to the progress of pictorial art; and, without being remarkable as a colourist, gave well graded lights, with general care and finish, and fine dignified figures. His works bear a certain resemblance to those of his contemporary Mantegna. Marco Palmezzano was his pupil; and the signature " Marcus de Melotius " on some of Palmezzano's works, along with! the general affinity of style, has led to their being ascribed to Melozzo, who has hence been incorrectly called " Marco Melozzo."
End of Article: MELOZZO DA FORLI (c.1438–1494)
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