Juraj Dalmatinac (George the Dalmatian; c.1400–73) was the most prolific stonemason of the Dalmatian Renaissance, but little is known of the man save for the works he left behind. Born in Zadar some time around 1400, he learnt his trade in Venice, setting up a workshop there which made his reputation as a mason. The Šibenik authorities engaged him to work on the cathedral in 1441, paying him 150 golden ducats a year as well as covering his family’s moving expenses and providing free housing.
When work on the cathedral stalled, Dalmatinac picked up commissions elsewhere, notably the sarcophagus of St Anastasius in Split cathedral, and the main facade of Ancona cathedral. In 1464 he replaced Michelozzo Michelozzi as the chief fortification engineer in Dubrovnik, finishing off the finest of the system’s many bastions, the Minčeta Fortress. Following working visits to Urbino and possibly Siena, he returned to Šibenik, where he died in 1473, the cathedral still unfinished.
Dalmatinac’s great skill was to blend the intricate stoneworking techniques of the Gothic period with the realism and humanism of Renaissance sculpture. His stylistic innovations were carried over to the next generation by his pupils Andrija Aleši and Nikola Firentinac, who were involved in the completion of Šibenik cathedral before going on to produce their own masterpieces in Trogir.