Francesco di Giorgio Martini 1439–1501 Italian Painter, Sculptor, Architect, and Engineer
Francesco di Giorgio
Italian painter, sculptor,
architect, and engineer
Francesco di Giorgio Martini is best known for his contributions to architecture and engineering. Italian rulers of his day valued him above all for his expertise on military fortifications. However, Francesco was involved in numerous forms of art, and his workshop in Siena produced everything from sculptures and paintings to illuminated* manuscripts.
Francesco probably received his early training in his native Siena. Scholars know little of the first years of his career, but some believe that he worked as a military architect in southern Italy. The most notable work of the young artist is a larger-than-life-sized wooden sculpture of John the Baptist, which he carved for a religious society in Siena. In the 1470s, Francesco entered the service of the Duke of Urbino. He worked on several parts of the duke's palace and also designed a cathedral, monastery, and convent for the city of Urbino.
During the later years of Francesco's life, the leading courts of Italy competed for his services. He worked in Milan, Pavia, Abruzzo, and Naples before returning to Siena in 1489. He became the city's chief architect and engineer and resumed his activities as a painter and sculptor. He also served twice on Siena's chief governing body.
Francesco's reputation in modern times rests mostly on a pair of architectural treatises* he wrote in the late 1400s. Richly illustrated, they contain a wealth of information on the theory and practice of architecture, engineering, and the military arts. In the second of these works, Francesco emphasized the importance of drawing, tying the practice of architecture to other forms of art. These two treatises had a great influence on artists and architects of the following century.
- * illuminated
having pages ornamented with hand-painted color decorations and illustrations
- * treatise
long, detailed essay