Painting in Rimini
One of the most important artistic currents of the 14th century
The Riminese school
While in the city feuds and murders accompanied the rise of the signoria, Riminese artists, no more than about ten in number, and probably grouped together in one workshop, gave life to a “school”, considered today to be one of the most important of 14th century Italy.
Young men entered the workshop to learn a craft. In this way the master painter passed onto the apprentice a baggage ofknowledge which gave way to the evolution of a tradition. Not only did this have an artistic impact on the city, but should be seen also from the business and craft aspects. Artists belonged to a category of specialised crafts, which activity accounted for an appreciable financial investment. In the execution of large cycles of frescoes it was necessary to employ numbers of people forming a cohesive team of work, which had in its midst master carpenters and gilders. Alongside the artists there also worked woodcarvers, blacksmiths and producers of gesso and stucco. In addition to all of the paint that was made in the workshop, some had to be made in the lay pharmacies and those found in the convents.
Giotto, summoned to Rimini by the Malatesta, was considered to be responsible for the blossoming of the Riminese school. The only existing testimony of the activity in Rimini of the celebrated artist is the Crucifixion in the MalatestaTemple. As well as the influence of Giotto, the Riminese artists, (Giuliano, Giovanni, Pietro, Baronzio and miniaturist, Neri), were exposed to the works of the Sienese and Florentine schools.; they still felt their Byzantine roots and from these developed their own autonomous artistic style.
The principle clients of the Riminese artists were the mendicant friars, and above all the Franciscans. Besides the school in the Rimini and Montefeltro regions there was a significant diffusion from the Marche to Umbria and from the Veneto to Croatia.
The most important testimony in the city is to be found in the church of Sant’Agostino, dedicated to San Giovanni Evangelista. Inside are found the frescoes of the belltower chapel which tell the Story of Maria. This is the masterpiece of Giovanni, the first great protagonist of the Riminese school. In the central chapel there is a cycle of frescoes attributed to an anonymous painter known as the Maestro di Sant’ Agostino.
Various works of art can still be traced in the Riminese territory, amongst them the frescoes painted by Iacopo Avanzi in the Malatesta castle of Montefiore Conca; the Crucifixion of Maestro del Refettori, or, at the Collegiata di Santarcangelo, the large Croce di Talamello of Pomposa.
The Riminese school survived only for some decades; it was perhaps the terrible scourge of the plague that decimated the city and carried off its young painters.