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A family of Milanese artists, closely connected with the cathedral and with the Certosa near Pavia.
(1) Guiniforte Solari
Born 1429; died 1481. He was the son of Giovanni (born c. 1400; died 1480), superintendent of the building of the cathedral and of the Certosa. Guiniforte was one of the architects of the Certosa (1465), was employed on the Ospedale Maggiore, and was also one of the architects of the fortified castle of the Sforza family and of several of the churches of Milan. His son PIETRO ANTONIO (d. 1493) worked also for a time on the cathedral; there is proof that in 1476 he was still there. Later he was called to Moscow where he was employed on the rebuilding of the Kremlin.
(2) Andrea Solari
Painter, b. at Milan about 1465; d. 1515. From 1490 he was a pupil of Giovanni Bellini at Venice and his early works recall this painter, as for example a Madonna with Saints, painted in 1495 for the Church of San Pietro at Murano and now in the Brera at Milan. After his return to Milan he copied the style of Leonardo da Vinci so closely that he was considered the latter's best pupil. He is very like Leonardo, especially in the treatment of the heads, plastic modelling, and colouring. A beautiful Descent from the Cross, painted in 1503, is still in existence. About this date he also painted many portraits and in this way came into connexion with Cardinal Charles d'Amboise, for whom he painted a number of pictures during the years 1507-9 at Gaillon in Normandy. These works are now in galleries in England. During the second half of his working period he changed his style to a brighter tone and his works are easily recognized by the clear, luminous colours and the manner in which they flow into and blend with one another. The School of Leonardo, however, is always perceptible. Among other paintings belonging to this time is a Madonna with a Child lying on a cushion to whom she offers the breast; the figures are surrounded by a beautiful landscape. This picture is in the Louvre and the same gallery has another of his works, a Salome receiving from the executioner the head of John the Baptist, with the delicate face turned away from the object. The Poldi-Pezzoli Gallery of Milan contains a large number of his works; among these are: "Repose on the Flight to Egypt" (1515), one of the best pictures of Leonardo's school; "St. Catherine"; "St. Anthony", "The Crowning with Thorns". His last and most important work is the "Assumption of the Blessed Virgin:, at the Certosa near Pavia, which, however, he was not able to complete.
(3) Andrea's brother Cristoforo Solari (called "Il Gobbo")
Sculptor and architect, b. at Milan before 1475; d. in 1527. In 1490 he went with Andrea to Venice where some sculptures executed by him are still in existence. In 1498 he returned to Milan and entered the service of Ludovico Sforza at whose order he executed his chief work, the tomb of Ludovico's wife. The figures of Beatrice d'Este and Ludovico upon the tomb belong in their massive severity, individuality of treatment, and technical excellencies to the best works of the early Renaissance in Lombardy. The monument was erected in the Church of Maria delle Grazie, but was unfortunately destroyed at a later era; in 1821 the two statues were taken to the Certosa near Pavia. Besides there, a number of statues in the cathedral of Milan are ascribed to him: four doctors of the church, Adam and Eve, Sebastian, Christ bound to the pillar. They are marked by a less vigorous naturalism, the influence of a stay at Rome, whither he went after the overthrow of the Sforza family. From 1503 he was again in Milan, where he took charge of the construction of the cathedral. He also designed the great cupola of Santa Maria della Passione at Milan.
(4) Antonio Solari
Born in 1382; died 1445. He is called IL ZINGARO (the gypsy), a nickname probably given him either because his father was apparently a Bohemian blacksmith who had emigrated to Venice, or from the wandering life he himself led until he settled permanently in Naples. He is said to have worked at his father's trade until his love for the beautiful daughter of an artist led him to turn to art. As at Naples he was very soon able to win the favour of Queen Joanna, it was not long before he became the most important painter of the capital. He founded a school which produced a number of masters of moderate ability. His most important work, which is also the best production of Neapolitan painting at that period, is a series of twenty frescoes in the court of a monastery near San Severino which show traces of the influence of the schools of Venice and Ferrara. They represent the life of St. Benedict and contain a large number of lifelike figures in dignified and graceful positions. His "Carrying of the Cross" in the Church of San Domenico Maggiore and a "Madonna" in the museum at Naples show nobility of conception combined with a vigorous realism.
(5) Santino Solari
Architect and sculpture, b. at Como, Upper Italy; d. 1646. He is best known for his share in the construction of the cathedral at Salzburg; he ornamented the palace and the gardens of the Bishop of Salzburg with statues.
ALOE, Le pitture dello Zingaro nel chiostro di S. Severino in Napoli, dinotanti i fatti dellai vita di S. Benedetto (Naples, 1836); MOSCHIMI, Memorie della vita di Antonio Solari, detto il Zingaro, pittori Veneziano (Venice, 1828); FRIZZONI, Il Sodoma Guadenzio Ferari, Andrea Solari illustrati in tre opere in Milano recentemente recuperate in Arch. stor. arte, IV (Rome, 1891); VENTURI, Eine umbekammte marmorgruppe von Cristoforo Solari in Mitth. Inst. osterr. gesch., V (Innsbruck, 1884), 295-302.