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Francesco Laurana

Dalmatian, 1420/1425 - 1502

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Laurana was born in Vrana, near Zara in Dalmatia, between 1420 and 1425 and died in Marseilles before 12 March 1502. He was a sculptor, architect, and medalist, and he possibly commenced work in Italy under Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) at Florence in about 1444. He is first recorded in Naples in July 1453 while at work on the Castel Nuovo. In January 1458 he was working on the sculpture and possibly the design for the triumphal arch at the entrance to the Castel Nuovo. Laurana moved to France in 1461 for employment at the court of René of Anjou, for whom he signed a number of medals. He remained in France until 1466. He worked in Sicily and Naples between 1467 and 1475, returned to France between 1475 and 1483. Laurana died in France where he is documented intermittently during the last decades of his life.

The artist's sculptural work includes a series of remarkable busts of women, the forms simplified in a way that makes him unique in Italian sculpture. His medals, however, are less original and would not be attributable to him but for the signatures. The dated medals range between 1461 and 1466, the period of Laurana's residence in France. With the one exception of a medal of King Louis XII of France (George Francis Hill, A Corpus of the Italian Renaissance Medals before Cellini, 2 vols., London, 1930: no. 65), the medals depict members of René's family and the court.

[This is the biography published in the NGA systematic catalogue of Renaissance medals.]

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