Riccardo da Assise
Riccardo da Assise
Born in
15 April 1452, Assise, Kingdom of Tulino
Died in
2 May 1519, Kanjo, Kingodm of Kanjor
Known for
Art (painting, drawing, sculpting), science, engineering, architecture, anatomy
The Last Supper
The Queen with the Furret
St. Sarahae of the Rocks
Riccardo Da Assise (Assise, 15 April 1452 – Kanjo, 2 May 1519) was an Istalian inventor, artist and scientist. A man of genius and a universal talent of the Renascentia, he fully embodied the spirit of his era, bringing it to the greatest forms of expression in the most diverse fields of art and knowledge. He was an architect, painter, sculptor, draftsman, writer, set designer, anatomist, botanist, musician, engineer and designer. It is considered one of the greatest geniuses of humanity.

Biography Edit

Riccardo was the eldest son of the notary Michele da Assise, born under the Kingdom of Tulino but with Florenzine citizens thanks to his mother, and Caterina Amadori. His mother Caterina died just twenty-eight in 1464, when the family already resided in Florenza. His father remarried three more times: a second (1464) with the fifteen-year-old Elisa di Lanfredini, who also died without progeny, a third with Margherita Dei Capponi (1475), who finally gave him six children; six others had with the fourth and last marriage with Maria Pia Bruscati (1487). Thus Riccardo had 12 half-brothers and stepsisters, all much younger than he (the last one was born when Riccardo was forty-six).

Michele had already worked in Florenza where he returned in 1462 with his family, including little Riccardo who was sent to study grammar and arithmetic. His teachers, however, said that the boy was discontinuous and untidy, beginning many things that he did not conclude. In this period the child learned to write with the left and upside down, in a completely specular way to normal writing. His father Michele in 1466 showed his friend Andrea del Carroccio, a well-known florenzine painter, some drawings of such an invoice that convinced the master to take Riccardo in his workshop. The father, however, imposed the end of his studies on his son.

As the young Riccardo's interest in drawing and engraving became increasingly evident, Michele sent his son from 1469 to Andrea del Carroccio's workshop, which in those years was one of the most important in Florenza, as well as a real forge of new talents. The workshop carried out a multi-faceted activity, from painting to various sculptural techniques. The practice of drawing was stimulated, bringing all the collaborators to an almost common language, so much so that even today it can be very difficult to attribute the works left from the workshop to the hand of the master or to a specific student. Moreover the students learned notions of carpentry, mechanics, engineering and architecture. Riccardo became del Carroccio's most talented apprentice so much that many of the Maestro's late paintings present innumerable elements realized by Riccardo.

Riccardo's first independent works are today dated between 1471 and the early seventies. Among them the highly appreciated Annuncation and the St Sarahae Seluciana. In these works, on which the critical debate was very heated, the artist still shows a strong adherence to the common language of the students of del Carroccio, complicating attributive studies, but we can see also a quickly acceptance of the new Selucian influences. Having left the workshop of the Maestro Riccardo's style began to evolve away from that of del Carroccio, still tied to medieval influences, to fully embrace the style of the Renascentia that was already spreading in Istalia from Selucia since the beginning of the century, when the dominion of the Ahmadi Caliphate had begun to wobble while the Istalian kingdoms and lordships regained their independence. The numberous portraits realized by Riccardo show how the young artist could access commissions from the rich Florenzine bourgeoisie as well as religious institutions. The Portrait of Noble Woman and the St. Sarahae with the Rose are considered as the first Riccardo's fully Renascential masterpieces.

From 1474 to 1478 no works of Riccardo were known. It has therefore been hypothesized that the little more than twenty years old Riccardo was still uncertain about his future, approaching the world of science and engeneering with the frequentation of the elderly geographer and astronomer Paolo Padagnelli. He probably had the chance to deepen his anatomy by assisting in the dissection of corpses in hospital mortuary chambers, but he also had to study physics and mechanics through direct experiments. On April 1476 an anonymous complaint was presented to the Night Constables against several people, including Riccardo, for sodomy consummated towards the seventeen year old Gerolamo Michelozzi. Even if in the Florenza of the time there was a certain tolerance towards homosexuality, the penalty foreseen in these cases was very severe: the avoidance for adult sodomites and the mutilation of a foot or hand for young people. The involvement of a boy related to the powerful Dottori family, which dominated the Republic, was fortunate for the accused: the accusation was in fact archived and the defendants were all forgiven unless there had been other complaints.

In 1478 Riccardo returned to the painting with the first public commissions alongside the works for the privates and despite many works were never finished, a trait that Riccardo brought with him throughout his life, he arose in prominence between the Florenzine artists becoming close to the powerful Dottori family, introduced by his Master del Carroccio. For the Dottori family, however, he showed also his showed his skills as an engineer and was often asked for military advice. Among the most important works of this period the unfinished Adoration of the Wise Men, the most important commission received by Riccardo until then. Thanks to this closeness with the poweful family, the Patriarch of Istalia, the future Clemens II and exponent of the Dottori family, convinced his cousin Lisandro Dottori, leader of Florenza, to send Riccardo to the court of Fidelia, at the time, the largest and most populous city of Istalia and the most powerful kingdom on the peninsula, for diplomatic reasons and to offer to the local Kings the best artists of the city, also to promote a more indipendent policy for Florenza towards the Kingdom of Tulino.

Lisandro sent in homage to Ferdinando I King of Fidelia a silver lira partly in the shape of a horse that Riccardo played during a musical competition that he won with great mastery impressing the King. On that occasion Riccardo wrote a famous "employment letter" of nine paragraphs, in which he described first his engineering projects, military apparatus, hydraulic works, architecture, and only at the end, of painting and sculpture, to get to in peacetime, including the project of a bronze horse for a monument to Ferdinando I. It is clear that Riccardo was intent on staying in Fidelia, a city that was to fascinate him due to its openness to scientific and technological innovations, caused by its continuous military campaigns. In Fidelia Riccardo definitively abandoned the Florenzine stylistic formalisms dragged by the artistic and cultural fervor that was affecting the powerful southern kingdom in those years. Despite an initial mistrust on the part of the Fidelian environment, the first commissions soon began to arrive allowing the artist to be widely appreciated. Masterpieces of this period are The Queen with the Ferret, St. Sarahae of the Rocks, the over 30 portraits commissioned by the Fidelian Royal Family, the Nursing Sarahae, a gift for the Court of the King of Kanjor. The Royal commission increased in the middle of the 80's: the project for the lantern of the Cathedral of Nepoli; interior decorations of the Castle of Fidelia on the occasion of the marriage of Deodato, son of the King, with Luise Marie of Kanjor and the organization of the marriage itself cheered by numerous contraptions, plays of lights and sounds that amazed the whole city; the colossal equestrial statue of Francesco I (destroyed and melted when Fidelia was conquered and erased by the Quanzars in the 18th century); the project for the Duomo of Tarande; finally the well known Last Supper in the Bishop's Palace of Lecci.

In 1492 Riccardo was invited in Kanjor by King August III, to whom the daughter, espouse of the son of the King of Fidelia, had spoken very well of the Florenzine artist. Here Riccardo was recognized as a Master of the New Selucian art, which was spreading also outside Majatra, receiving many commission from the Royal Court, the Canrillaise Patriarchate and several nobles. Riccardo redecorated all the Château de Fin du Nord; realized the Eliyahu the Savior for the Patriarchate; realized and decorated the Chapel of St. Thomas in the Cathedral of Atyr; then the paintings St.Matthias Mother and the Holy Child with the Cross. The Dukes of the Isle, formally under the sovereignty of the King but always in search of authonomy, commissioned several art works to Riccardo to compete in prestige with the Royal Court but also the Dukes asked advice for military and defensive structures. Riccardo accepted to put his experience at the services of the Dukes but this pushed the King to reppeal him demanding Riccardo to reside in Kanjo, where the King as well began to commission several defensive projects to Riccardo. Among them there are a portion of the Walls of Kanjo and a lot of unrealized projects collected then in several of the manuscripts realized by the artist. In 1496 he was sent by Queen Anne I in Rildanor to help the King of Tirali, her ally, in his conquer wars and for him he developed a new type of gunpowder, formed from a mixture of sulfur, coal and saltpeter, he studied flying machines and tools for underwater warfare.

In 1503 Riccardo was recalled in Florenza where the Republic commissioned to both him and Antonangelo, the two most prominent artists of the city at the time, two large frescoes in the Palace of the Government. The two paintings were very different: Riccardo depicted soldiers fighting on horseback, while Antonangelo had soldiers being ambushed as they bathe in the river. Neither work was completed and both were lost forever when the chamber was refurbished. Both works were much admired, and copies remain of them. The rivality between Antonangelo and Riccardo fully exploded with many anecdotes about their attempts to stand out on the other. In this period began the works on the masterpiece that made Riccardo famous over the centuries, the Donnarianna or Dandola. Traditionally identified as Arianna Lisistelli, born in 1479 and wife of Luigi Sebastiano del Dandolo (hence the name "Dandola"), the painting, considered the most famous portrait in the world, goes far beyond the traditional limits of the portrait genre.

Around 1503 Riccardo paid particular attention to the study of flight and the design of a new flying machine. Being able to achieve the task of human flight represented the most ambitious challenge and Riccardo cultivated the idea of writing a treatise on flight. Riccardo will never complete the drafting of the treatise on flight, but in 1505 he compiled the Treaty on Birds and Their Flight, now kept at the Royal Library of Eristano. The Treaty of Flight is the collection of Riccardo's more mature thought concerning the study of flight, and it is in the pages of this precious manuscript that Riccardo designs his most advanced flying machine: the Great Falcon. In the following three years Riccardo further developed his studies on the anatomy of birds and on air resistance and, around 1507, on the fall of weights and the motions of air. From this knowledge he then tried to build original flying machines, in some cases implemented but never without success.

In 1508 Riccardo was called by Clemens I in Auroria after great recommendations by part of the Kanjorian Patriarchate, from which the Arch Patriach came. This was a very intense period: he painted the Mother of St. Matthias, Sarahae and the Child with the lamb and devoted himself on his scientific, mechanical, optical and geometry studies and took care of geological, hydrographic and urban planning problems. He decorated several chambers of the Apostolic Palaces, he took care of the drying up of the Marshes of Campus Vetere, in the outskirt of Auroria, of the arrangement of the port of the city and projected several defensive structures for the territory of the Holy See.

In 1513 Gaius Aurelius Barbatus died during his direction of the works on the new St. Micheal's Basilica and Clemens I asked to Riccardo to become new Chef Architect: Riccardo departed from Barbatus' project by proposing a more traditionally basilical layout with five naves and a large pronaos. The Papal Court, however, amply criticized the new project, preferring the original plan with a central plan and Greek Cross by Barbatus, which would have made the immense dome stand out, which was expected to be erected above the church. Behind this tendencies to bring out the dome there was the desires of the Papal Court to outmatch the dome of the once pagan Temple of All Gods of Auroria, until the time the larger dome of all Terra. Thus in 1516 finally Clemens I was persuaded to nominate the kanjorian Antoine de Saint-Ville, co-draftsman of Riccardo, as new Chief Architect.

That same year, therefore, Riccardo left for Kanjor, accepting the insistent invitations by Queen Anne, where he arrived in May, staying at the Chateau de Fin du Nord together with the court and honored with the title of premier peintre, architecte, et mecanicien de la reine, with a pension of 5,000 écus. Anna I was a cultured and refined sovereign, a lover of above all Istalian art, as demonstrated also in the following years by welcoming other Istalian artists with honors. These last years spent in Kanjor were certainly the most serene period of his life, assisted by two faithful students and assistants, and although weakened by old age and a probable cerebral thrombosis that paralyzed his right hand, he was able to continue his studies and scientific research with passion and dedication. The high regard he enjoyed is also demonstrated by the visit received, on 10 October, by the King of Amateria and his entourage visiting Kanjor and who insisted to meet the well known genius. Among his latest paintings there are the St. Matthias, the Orgius, the Portraits of the Queen of Kanjor with her children.

He designed the royal palace of Cimoges, which Anna I intended to erect for his mother Ludovica of Nicoma. Then he devoted himself to the project of a town for which he foresaw the deplacement of a river that enriched it with water and fertilized the nearby countryside. He was also the curator of the feasts and ceremonies and we especially remember those staged in Soulon in 1515 and in Lambéry in 1517, in both cases to celebrate the presence of Anna I. The main attraction created for these events was the automaton of a lion, which was able to walk and then stop opening it chest full of lilies and different flowers.

On April 23, 1519 he drew up his will before the notary Filippe Boreau, in the presence of five witnesses: he arranged to be buried in the church of San Florenzino, with a funeral ceremony accompanied by chaplains and minor friars, as well as sixty poor, each regent a torch; it required the celebration of three solemn masses, with deacon and subdeacon, and thirty "low" masses, in Atyr. Riccardo died a few days later, on May 2, at the Royal Castle. He was 67 years old. Anna I, in Saint-Claire where she was, once learned the news let herself go to a disconsolate cry. On August 12 he was interred in the cloister of the church. Fifty years later, when the tomb was violated, his remains were dispersed in the riots of religious struggles between Catholics and Huguenots. In 1984 some bones found and attributed to Riccardo were placed in the chapel of Saint-Roland at the castle of Atyr.

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