Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi

Orcagna, also known as Andrea di Cione

The famous painter of the Tryptych of San Matteo at the Uffizi

Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6

Andrea di Cione (also known as Orcagna) lived and worked in Florence from 1343 to 1368 as a painter, sculptor and architect. Andrea and his brothers Jacopo, Matteo and Nardo (the last two were more artisans than artists) ran the best art workshop in Florence at the time, after Giotto’s best pupils (Maso di Banco, Bernardo Daddi) died from the plague in 1348.


Andrea Orcagna’s style was infused with several influences, such as the architecture of Arnolfo di Cambio, the sculpture of Andrea Pisano, and the paintings of Giotto. His style, also inspired by Taddeo Gaddi more than the ‘Gothic realism’ that characterized the period, would very much influence the art created in Florence in the 1350s. His first well-known painting is the Polytypch in the Stozzi chapel in Santa Maria Novella (1354-1357). Here, Christ is in his glory among the saints.


Orcagna paints using a new scheme, freely drawing his figures without ever seeming to take the five panels into account, and re-visits past graphics, like the Byzantine style, instead of following in Giotto’s footsteps. This different style was due, in part, to the religious crisis that began thanks to the Black Death, or plague, in 1348, and in part, to the research carried out by exponents of the Sienese school.


As a sculptor, his major work is the majestic Tabernacle of Orsanmichele (1349-59). It is a marble altar in the shape of a tabernacle, in prefect Florence gothic style. Decorated with coloured glass, bronze, polychromatic marble, at the bottom of the alter 8 octagonal panels tell the story of the Virgin Mary. Here, one can see the new and emerging plasticity, and an excellent ability to collocate figures in the given space. On the back, there is a large bas-relief that depicts the Dying Virgin Mary and the Assumption. This is a great artwork that exemplifies Florentine sculpture in the 1400s, and should be seen as a precursor to the change in iconography that occured just half a century later.


In Orcagna’s scene, there are many people gathering around the Dying Virgin Mary. Among these, one figure located on the far right side of the scene, sitting under a tree with his head covered, is a self-portrait of Orcagna.

From 1359 to 1362, Andrea and his brother Matteo were called to Orvieto to manage the works done to the Duomo, but in 1364, he was already back in Florence to decorate the façade of Santa Maria del Fiore.


The last documented news of Orcagna was in 1368: in that year, he painted the Madonna (today lost) for Orsanmichele. Large parts of the fresco in Santa Croce have also been lost. On the right side of the Basilica, Orcagna painted the Universal Sin, and particularly, the Trionfo della Morte (conserved today in the church museum).


According to Giorgio Vasari, Orcagna is also the painter responsible for the frescos in Pisa’s cemetery, however, art critics today believe Francesco Traini did this work.

As an architect, he designed the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza Signoria, the construction, however, was started after his death (from 1376 to 1382).

His brother Jacopo di Cione’s most famous work is the Triptych of San Matteo (1369, Uffizi Gallery).


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If you are visiting Tuscany you cannot miss Florence. The Renaissance city is a treasure trove of art with an astonishing contemporary vibe. Beyond the extraordinary artistic heritage, a testimony to its centuries of civilization, the best way to enjoy Florence is to stroll along the riverside avenues at sunset, or to get lost among the city’s myriad alleyways of the bohemian Oltrarno or the ...