In 1412, contracted by a wealthy merchant Lorenzo Trenta, he started the design of the Trenta Chapel in the basilica of San Frediano in Lucca. In 1413 he was accused, together with his assistant Giovanni da Imola, of serious crimes: theft, as well as rape and sodomy of one Clara Sembrini. He fled to Siena (and began working on the Fonte Gaia), but his assistant was incarcerated for three years. Jacopo della Quercia only would return to Lucca in March 1416, given a letter of safe conduct. He continued at the Trenta Chapel on the marble altar and several statues of saints, contained in niches. Some work was also performed by his assistant. Jacopo also designed the tomb slabs of Lorenzo Trenta and his wifze Isabetta Onesti, on the pavement in front of the altar.
When in 1416 Lorenzo Ghiberti was asked to design a hexagonal basin with bronze panel for the Baptistery in Siena, political infighting brought Jacopo della Quercia into the project (who had been his competitor for the bronze doors in Florence). He only completed one bronze relief The Annunciation to Zacharias because he was working at the same time on the Fonte Gaia and the Trenta Chapel. His lingering on this project brought him in legal difficulties with the authorities. Since he had been rejected in the competition for the "Doors of Paradise" in Florence, he had been reluctant to work with bronze. And when he worked on the tabernacle of the baptistery, he insisted on taking care only of the marble part.
In 1421 he carved an Annunciation, in a different style, with two wooden polychromed statues Virgin and Gabriel for the Collegiata in San Gimignano (the polychrome finishing was done by other masters, such as Martino di Bartolomeo). The sophistication of this group, equal to the quality of his marble statues, shows that he was also versatile in woodcarving. This led some authors to ascribe other wooden statues to him, but most are attributable to his very active workshop.
In his later years, he became even more active, working on different projects simultaneously. In 1427 he received the commission to design the upper part of the baptismal font for the Siena Baptistery. This hexagonal column, resting on a pillared base in the middle of the basin, contains five prophets situated in niches. The marble statue of St. John the Baptist, at the top of the dome above the tabernacle, is also attributed to Jacopo della Quercia.
In 1425 he accepted another major commission : the design of the round-arched Porta Magna of the San Petronio church in Bologna. It would keep him busy for a good deal of the last thirteen years of his life and it is considered his masterwork. Each side of the door is flanked, first by a colonette with a spirally wound decoration, then nine busts of prophets and at the end five scenes from the Old Testament, carved into somewhat lower relief. In the Creation of Adam, he uses the same arrangement as in the Fonte Gaia (in Siena), but in reverse order. Michelangelo, who had visited Bologna in 1494, conceded that his Genesis in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, was based on these reliefs. The architrave above the door contains five reliefs with representations from the New Testament. The lunette contains three free-standing statues : Virgin and Child, Saint Petronius (with a model of Bologna in his right hand) and Saint Ambrose (carved by another sculptor Domenico Aimo in 1510). Originally this third statue had to represent the papal legate Cardinal Alemmano, but this intention was quickly abandoned after the cardinal had been evicted from Bologna. He relied heavily on the artists of his Bolognese workshop, such as Cino di Bartolo, for assistance in this project.
While working at the Porta Magna, he was asked in 1434 by the Sienese to design the Loggia di San Paolo, close to the Piazza del Campo. He was not able to finish this commission. At his death he had only finished the capitals and six niches.
In his final years he was awarded several honours by the Sienese : in 1435 he was knighted and given the important position of Operaio of the cathedral.
In his final years, he was also involved in the decoration of the chapel of the Saint Sebastian (destroyed in 1645) for the cardinal Casini in the cathedral of Siena, but, part of a relief of the cardinal, most work was done by his Siena workshop. This carved high relief, Cardinal Antonio Casini presented to the Virgin by St. Anthony of Egypt, is on display in the Hall of Statues in the Cathedral Museum.
Jacopo della Quercia died at Siena on 20 October 1438. He was buried in the San Agostino church in Siena.
He was already held in high esteem by his contemporaries, such as Lorenzo Ghiberti, Antonio Filarete and Giovanni Santi. Giorgio Vasari includes a biography of Jacopo della Quercia in his Lives of the Artists.
Read more about this topic: Jacopo Della Quercia
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