By Jennifer D. Webb

Giorgio da Sebenico (also known as Georgius Matthei Dalmaticus) died on October 10th, 1473 in Šibenik, Croatia. Born in Zadar, Giorgio spent much of his career working in major cities around the Adriatic. Scholars believe that Giorgio may have been apprenticed to Giovanni Bron and worked with his son, Bartolomeo.

The first official documentation of the sculptor and architect dates to June 22, 1441 when he was summoned to Šibenik and named Master of the Works of the Saint James Cathedral. The initial renovation, for which he was responsible, included the transformation of the simple basilica-church though the raising of the eastern end, the addition of a dome over the crossing, and the execution of sculptural decoration. He likely carved the 74 individual heads on the central and side apses and was responsible for the addition of the sacristy. The style of the sacristy is typical of fifteenth-century Dalmatian sculpture, drawing, as it does, from both the Gothic architectural tradition and from fifteenth-century Florentine forms.

By 1450, Giorgio was in Ancona carving the central portal of San Francesco delle Scale (1450-59) and the facade for the Loggia dei Mercanti (c.1452) which includes a knight on horseback and the four virtues: Fortitude, Hope, Temperance, and Charity.

A decade later his architectural career led him back to the Dalmatian coast. From June of 1464 until November of the following year, he was in Dubrovnik, where he helped with the fortifications, including the Minčeta Tower (with Michelozzo).

References: Pilo, Giuseppe Maria. The Fruitful Impact: The Venetian Heritage in the Art of Dalmatia (2005); Höfler, Janez.  “Florentine Masters in Early Renaissance Dubrovnik: Maso di Bartolomeo, Michele di Giovanni, Michelozzo, and Salvi di Michele.” In Dempsey, Charles Ed.  Quattrocento Adriatico: Fifteenth-Century Art of the Adriatic Rim (1994): 81-102; Stanko Kokole. “Giorgio da Sebenico.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.

View of Šibenik (Croatia) with the Cathedral of St. James.

Facade of the Cathedral of St. James, Šibenik (Croatia) (after 1441)

Detail, Cathedral of St. James, Šibenik (Croatia) (after 1441)

Detail, Portal, San Francesco delle Scale, Ancona (Italy) (1450-1459)

With Andrea Alessi, Knight, Loggia dei Mercati, Ancona (Italy) (after 1452)

Fortitude, Loggia dei Mercati, Ancona (Italy) (after 1452)

Photo credits: Jennifer D. Webb

Further reading: Dragos Cosmescu. Venetian Renaissance Fortifications in the Mediterranean. Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2015. Robin Harris. Dubrovnik: A History. London: Saqi Publishing: 2006.

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