Giovanni Dalmata

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Ivan Duknović, Putto bearing the Cippico shield and torch, circa 1480. Trogir City Museum

Giovanni Dalmata (c. 1440 – c. 1514), born Ivan Duknović and also known as Giovanni Duknovich di Traù and Ioannes Stephani Duknovich de Tragurio, was a sculptor from Trogir, Dalmatia who was mainly active in Rome, Hungary and in Dalmatia. Giovanni Dalmata was, with Mino da Fiesole and Andrea Bregno, the leading sculptor in Rome in the second half of the 15th century.

He was born in Vinišće, a Dalmatian village (now a part of Marina) in Croatia around 1440 and came to Rome between 1460 and 1465 to work for Pope Paul II on the Palazzo di Venezia. Other works in and around Rome include: the Tempietto S. Giacomo in Vicovaro (near Tivoli), the tomb monuments of Pope Paul II in St. Peter's (now dismantled), the tomb of Cardinal Bartolomeo della Rovere in San Clemente, the tomb of Cardinal Bernardo Eroli (now Grotte Vaticane).

Around 1488–1490, Duknovich went to the Court of King Matthias Corvinus in Buda, where he stayed for a few years, mastering a number of works which are unfortunately all either completely destroyed or badly damaged (e.g. the Fountain of Hercules in Visegrád).

After his stay in Hungary, Giovanni Dalmata returned to Traù (Trogir) where he left a number of works, most important among those is the statue of St. John the Evangelist in the Orsini chapel in Trogir Cathedral. He is also the creator of the sculpture of St. Magdalene in the Franciscan monastery of St. Anthony on the nearby Čiovo island and worked with Nicolò Fiorentino and Andrea Alessi on the renaissance palace Cippico in Traù.

Around 1503, he was in Rome again, working on the tomb of the Papal Protonotary Lomellino. In 1509 he executed the tomb of the Beato Giannelli for S. Ciriaco in Ancona. Some documents of 1513 and 1514 refer to "Magistro Joanni lapicida" in Traù where he presumably died soon afterwards.

Recently his newly discovered work (The Virgin and Child, marble relief) was offered on auction in London's Katz gallery and bought for £250,000 by Trogir City Museum, which now owns six masterpieces. But the authenticity of this work must remain doubtful.

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