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Francesco Squarcione

(c. 1395—1468)

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(b Padua, c.1395; d Padua, c.1468).

Italian painter, active in Padua. He is an enigmatic figure, who is important in terms of the pupils he trained, rather than for his own work. In a history of Padua published in 1560 he is patriotically described as a famous and benevolent master, with many pupils and a large collection of antique sculpture gathered on youthful journeys through Greece and Italy. Modern research, however, shows that for many years he was discreditably involved in a series of lawsuits with pupils who, resentful of his exploitation of their talents, had broken their apprenticeships with him (Mantegna was the most famous litigant). No traces of his collection remain, but it is likely that something of the antiquarian erudition of the university town of Padua rubbed off on the young men who spent time in his workshop. It is impossible to assess any stylistic debt to Squarcione himself, however, as so little is known about his work, and his traditional role as the founder of a distinctive ‘Paduan style’ is highly questionable.

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