October 2003

A Quick Research on Some Sculptors Who Have Been
Important Enough to Influence the History of Art.

Bernini, Gianlorenzo
born 1598 - dead 1680

Bernini was a sculptor, architect and a painter. He was the son of a Florentine sculptor, and learned from his father the ability to manage the marble. He lived during the Italian Baroque - of which not only was a wonderfull exponent - but is also retained the creator of the Baroque Style.
He was also a great portrait artist. Among his patrons there were the Barberini and Borghese families. At the beginning of his carrier he worked in the Late Mannerist tradition, but later he left that and began to work in a passionate way, full of emotion.
"Rare man, sublime artificer, born by Divine Disposition and for the glory of Rome to illuminate the century" wrote Maffeo Barberini, Pope Urban VIII.

Some paints are:
  • "Portrait of a Young Man" - about 1625-30 - Red and white chalk - 13 1/16 x 8 5/8 in.
  • "Marine God" - 1652 - Black chalk - 13 11/16 x 9 3/8 in.
But his top is in sculpturing, and some opera are:
  • "Apollo and Daphne" - 1622-25 - marble - height 95 5/8 in. (243 cm) - Galleria Borghese, Rome
  • "Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius" - 1618-19 - Marble - height 86 5/8" (2.2 m) - Galleria Borghese, Rome
  • "Boy with a Dragon" - 1614-20 - Marble - H:22 in., W:20 in., D:16 in.
  • "Bust of Costanza Bonarelli" - c. 1636-37 - Marble - height 28 3/8" (72 cm) - Museo Nazionale, Florence
  • "Bust of Scipione Borghese" - 1632 - Marble - height 30 3/4" (78 cm) - Galleria Borghese, Rome
  • "Ecstasy od Saint Teresa" - 1647-52 - Marble - height c. 11' 6" (3.5m) - Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome
  • "Neptune and Dolphin" - about 1620-80 - Bronze - Approx. H: 22 in.
  • "Tomb of Alexander VII" - 1672-78 - Marble and gilded bronze - Saint Peter's, Rome
Bust of Costanza
Bust of Costanza Bonarelli
c. 1635 - Marble, height 70 cm
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence
Ecstasy of St Teresa
Ecstasy of St Teresa

Brunelleschi, Filippo
born 1377 - dead 1446

Florentine, architect, sculptor and goldsmith. He is retained one of the forefathers of the Italian Renaissance. In his childhood his father teached him some principles of letters, in which the boy showed much intelligence, but not so much perfection. So his disappointed father thought it was better to give him to art and handcraft, so he made the kid learned writing and the abacus. Then the young was put in the workshop of a goldsmith to learn to design.

Filippo was happy: he had found his way.
Most part of his glory comes from having re-interpreted the classical forms in a new way, related to the spirit of the new age in which he lived.
We can have clue of his beautyful mind, of his precision, considering that the first things he wanted to learn were wheels, weigths and motion, to shape and produce better clocks.
Among his wonderfull masterpieces unfortunately a wooden crucifix was lost in the fire of a church in the early 1300's.
But today we may admire:
  • a wooden crucifix, placed in Santa Croce (Holy Cross), a church in Florence; today is in Santa Maria Novella, another church;
  • a bas-relief in bronze, showing the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham;
  • the Cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore;
  • Barbadori Chapel, Santa Felicita;
  • the Lantern, an adornment on the Cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore, like to put a delicious pastry with a cherry upon a delicious cake;
  • the Chapel of Pazzi (a building of the family Pazzi);
  • the wonderfull design and realization of Ospedale degli Innocenti;
  • the design of the Badia in Fiesole, whose building started ten years after the death of Filippo, so today it is contested;
  • Old Sacristy, in San Lorenzo, of which Donatello made the stuccoes, the bronze doors and stone ornaments for a little door;
  • San Lorenzo: Nave and Chapel;
then just a mention to Santo Spirito, and I close here, because the list is long.
Sacrifice of Isaac
Sacrifice of Isaac

Buonarroti, Michelangelo
born 1475 - dead 1564

Here we talk about one the world's greatest author, a master of any time. His work is of a sublime beauty. Second of five brothers, was born in a small village close to Florence, in Tuscany, an Italian County.

We have some records of his father journal: "Today March 6, 1475, a child of the male sex has been born to me and I have named him Michelangelo. He was born on Monday between 4 and 5 in the morning, at Caprese, where I am the Podesta'" (in that age in Italian Podesta' meant like Mayor).

His mother was sick and weak so he was nursered in the family of a stone-cutter. Later he wrote: "sucked in the craft of hammer and chisel with my foster mother's milk. When I told my father that I wish to be an artist, he flew into a rage: 'artists are laborers, no better than shoemakers'".

When he was six his mother died so we can suppose his childhood was sad and lacking in affection, and he grew a bit taciturn.
Later his father sent him to the school of a master, Francesco Galeota from Urbino, to learn grammar, and some Latin. There he met Francesco Granacci who was learning the art of painting in the studio of The Ghirlandaio.
This was crucial for him because Granacci pushed him to follow his vocation in art.

When he was about 13 he told his father that wished to do some apprentice in affresco (or fresco) with The Ghirlandaio. After one year he moved at the sculpture school in the Medici family garden.

It is not possible to talk of Michelangelo without referring to the political, religious and economical climate of the age, so here will be given some historical notes. One of the problem of this age was that Art was not possible without some sponsor.

A bit later he was called by Lorenzo de Medici, the Magnificent. So he had his opportunity.
There his culture grew because he became friend of the humanist Marsilo Ficino and the poet Angelo Poliziano. While attending Medici family he started to study anatomy.
At 16 he made two beautyfull relief sculptures: the "Battle of the Centaurs" and "Madonna of the Stairs", both about 1489-92.
From his journal: "My first work was a small bas-relief, The Madonna of the Stairs. Mary, Mother of God, sits on the rock of the church. The child curls back into her body. She foresees his death, and his return on the stairway to heaven. My second work, another small relief. My tutor read me the myth of the battle of the Lapiths against the Centaurs. The wild forces of Life, locked in heroic combat. Already at 16, my mind was a battlefield: my love of pagan beauty, the male nude, at war with my religious faith. A polarity of themes and forms...one spiritual, the other earthly, I've kept these carvings on the walls of my studio to this very day".

Then Lorenzo the Magnificent died, and being into the next years the political situation of Florence very divided and fighted, he moved at Rome.
There he did his first large-scale sculpture "Bacchus" - 1496-98, one of his few pagan subjects.
While finishing that he started the "Pieta' " - 1498-1500, one of the world most famous masterpiece, and here is astonishing to notice that he was barely 25.
Comment of the Vasari: "It would be impossible for any craftsman or sculptor no matter how brilliant ever to surpass the grace or design of this work, or try to cut and polish the marble with the skill that Michelangelo displayed" Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, first published 1550, 2nd edition 1558.

In these years of political confusion, with the Catholic power as usual trying to rise, on August 4th, 1501 a republic was once again proclaimed in Florence. Twelve days after he was commissioned to sculpt for the local Cathedral a statue of David - 1501-04 - marble - gorgeous: 14.24 ft. or 4.34 m.

Of these years are the "Madonna of Bruges" - marble - and the painted "tondo of the Holy Family". In 1508 he went back in Rome and was commissioned by the Pope to paint twelve apostles on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Here it's my humble opinion there are not enough words in the dictionary to describe the beauty of this opera. Not to mention its size: "The chapel is rectangular in shape and measures 40.93 meters long by 13.41 meters wide, i.e. the exact dimensions of the Temple of Solomon, as given in the Old Testament" [online: www.christusrex.org].

Other works of his are:
  • the "Tomb of Julius II";
  • the "Bound Slave" and the "Dying Slave" - both 1510-13.
  • "Imprisoned in the Block" - an unended work, or satisfied with it as is.
In the 1519 began and grew his architectural side. Then he was called again by the Medici family for two tombs: Lorenzo de' Medici and Giuliano de' Medici, other two marvellous wonderfull gorgeous works, and from which is evident his madness. Obviously the madness of one is the genius of another.
His personal comment was: "It is my pleasure to sleep and even more to be stone:
As long as shame and dishonor may last,
My sole desire is to see and to feel no more.
Speak softly, I beg you, do not awaken me

Then he left Florence in 1534 forever and came back in Rome under the protection of Pope Clement VII, who commissioned him the affresco "The Last Judgement" for the Sistine Chapel. With this work Michelangelo exposed hiself to some critics.
"Vasari relates that Biagio da Cesena, the Vatican's master of Ceremonies, said that 'it was mostly disgraceful that in so sacred a place there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully, and that it was no work for a papal chapel but rather for the public baths and taverns" [online: www.michelangelo.com].

But are well known the hypothesis about his supposed homosexuality, or bisexuality.
Then he met Vittoria Colonna, a poetess, and between the two was
love (he was 61 and she 46). Here we can notice the polyedricity of his art: he donated her 3 drawings; and over tons of letters, he left us sonnets and madrigals. All inspired by a "cruel and beautiful" woman, relative of Popes.

In this age his madness, driven by his genius, reached the top as his "unsociableness": "I am here in great distress and with great physical strain, and have no friends of any kind, nor do I want them; and I do not have enough time to eat as much as I need; my joy and my sorrow/my repose are these discomforts".

It appears he paid a big price for the divine gift of his art: "I am a poor man and of little worth, who is laboring in that art that God has given me in order to extend my life as long as possible" (January 29th, 1542).

Are to be considered too his works as architect:
- the Campidoglio (Capitol) - 1538-39 - the remodelling of the buldings of that age political hearth of Rome, with in the middle the bronze equestrian statue of the roman emperor Marco Aurelio. All the job was so great that was ended in the 17th century;
- the St. Peter Basilica - another gorgeous work, whose building and remodelling was forced by the local mob Sangallo chief, who gained alot with the Church: so he decided to not be paid.

His life was heavily influenced by religion, both by his faith and by some Popes.
In his last days he wrote: "Many believe - and I believe - that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age, I do not want to give it up; I work out of love for God and I put all my hope in Him".

And later: "I spend my days supervising the construction of St. Peter's. The Vatican's financial superintendent keeps harassing me for a progress report. My response: your lordship, I am not obliged to, nor do I intend to, tell you anything. Your job is to keep the money rolling in, and out of the hands of thieves. I will see to the building".

In these last years, now he is over 70, he keeps on producing studies and drawings of "The Lament over the Dead Christ" and about the Crucifixion. But his soul, not tired, pushes him to another masterpiece: the Pieta'.
Then he started the Rondanini Pieta' but left unfinished. Almost 90 he starts "The Mother and the Christ". His words:
"the course of my life has finally reached
In its fragile boat, over stormy seas
The common port where we must account
For all our past actions.
No painting or sculpture can quiet my soul
and on February 18, 1564 he passed away.
Cellini, Benvenuto
born 1500 - dead 1571

Florentine, sculptor, goldsmith, engraver; he made jewelry, vases, coins and ornaments. At the age of 15 he began his apprentice as goldsmith. At 16 - due to his strong pride and dueling - was exiled in Siena, where for a short time became a pupil of Michelangelo.

Among his patrons there were Cosimo I dei Medici, Francis I of France, and a couple of Popes. Then he lived for a while in Paris, France. As many guys of his age he was involded in political intrigues, of which - together with adventures and escapades - we may acknowledge reading his autobiography, first version published in English in 1960.

Some of his wonderfull opera are:
  • Bust of Cosimo I - Bronze - Museo del Bargello, Florence
  • Ganymedes - 1545-47 - Bronze - Height: 62 cm - Museo del Bargello, Florence
  • Nymph of Fontainebleau - 1542-44 - Bronze - 205 x 409 cm - Muse du Louvre, Paris
  • Perseus - 1545-54 - Bronze - Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence
  • Salt Cellar - 1540-44 - Gold, enamel and ebony - 26 x 33,5 cm - Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Perseus - 1545-54 - Bronze
Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence

born circa 1386 - dead 1466

Here we pay tribute to one of the greatest artist of all times: Donato di Niccolo' di Betto Bardi, master in both bronze and marble.

The quantity of his production is simply astonishing. Little is known about his personality, but about his handcraft we know he had a deep knowledge of ancient art, which he revived in the classical Roman lettering.

Over being a great sculptor with the marble and bronze, he was also very good with the wood, and with the bas-relief technique.
Some of his staues are simply impressive, and not only for the dimensions, although many of his works are monumentary. From his staues comes out an energy hard to find in other artists, not to mention the softness of the drapery by which the marble appears real tissue.

The pain and the sorrow engraved on the face of the Penitent Magdalene have no comparison with no other artist of every time.
Some of his most famous artworks are:
  • St. John - 1408-15 - Marble - Height 215 cm - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • David - ca. 1412 - Marble - Height 6'3"
  • St. Mark - 1411-13 - Marble - Height 236 cm - Orsanmichele, Florence
  • St. George - c. 1416-17 - Marble - Height 209 cm - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • Habbakuk ('Lo Zuccone') - 1423-26 - Marble - Height 195 cm - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • Feast of Herod - c. 1425 - Bronze with gilding - 60 x 60 cm - Baptistery, panel on the baptismal font, Siena
  • The Prophet Jeremiah - 1427 - Marble - Height 6'3"
  • Tabernacle of the Annunciation - 1428-ca.1433 - Limestone and terracotta - Height 13'9" - Santa Croce, Florence
  • The Cantoria or Singing Gallery - 1433-39 - Marble and colored glass - 1'5" x 18'8" - made for Florence Cathedral
  • David - c. 1444-46 - Bronze - Height 158 cm - Museo del Bargello, Florence
  • Equestrian monument of Gattamelata - 1444-53 - Bronze on marble plinth - Height of statue 340 cm - Piazza del Santo, Padua (Padova)
  • The Entombment of Christ - 1449 - Stone relief - 52 3/4" x 74" - Sant'Antonio, Padua
  • The Penitent Magdalene - c. 1453-55 - Wood with polychromy and gold - Height 188 cm - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence - after 1460 - Bronze bas-relief - San Lorenzo, Florence
  • The Maries at the Sepulchre - c. 1460-70 - Bronze - San Lorenzo, Florence
Lamentation over the Dead Christ
Lamentation over the Dead Christ
before 1456 - Bronze, 33,5 x 41,5 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Ghiberti, Lorenzo
born 1378 (some texts report 1381) - dead 1455

Original name: Lorenzo di Bartolo.
He also has been a great contributor of the Italian Renaissance.
It's reported that "his work and writings formed the basis for much of the style and aims of the later High Renaissance" [online: www.kfki.hu].

In his early years he did an apprentice as goldsmith with his father, Bartoluccio Ghiberti. Then the young author oriented himself more toward "the art of scuplture and of design, sometimes using colours, and at other times making small figures of bronze, finishing them with much grace" (Vasari - "The Lives of the Artists").

Among his several masterpieces probably one of the most famous is "The Sacrifice of Isaac" because done in competition with Brunelleschi. They were two panels in bronze bas-relief for the doors of the Baptistery, commissioned by the guild of the Merchants in Florence in 1401.

The words of Vasari about Ghiberti were: "The scene ... was absolutely perfect in every detail ... the whole work was finished so carefully that it seemed to have been breathed into shape rather than cast and then polished with iron tools".

While on the Brunelleschi's work commented: "The panel by Filippo was almost as good [as Ghiberti's]: his scene of Abraham sacrificing Isaac showed a servant who, as he waits for Abraham and while the ass is grazing, is drawing a thorn from his foot".

Among the others works we recall:
  • Pilate Washing His Hands - 1403-24 - Gilded bronze - Baptistry, Florence
  • Last Supper - 1403-24 - Gilded bronze, 39 x 39 cm - Baptistry, Florence
  • The Baptism of Christ - 1427 - Gilded bronze - S. Giovanni, Siena
  • St John the Baptist - 1412-16 - Bronze, height: 254 cm - Orsanmichele, Florence
not to mention the two parts (upper and lower) of the Northern Door of the Baptistry of Florence.
Sacrifice of Isaac
Sacrifice of Isaac
1401 - Bronze relief
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

Goujon, Jean
born ca. 1510 - dead c.1565 or c.1568

The Renaissance was not a movement only Italian. In the same period was born in France (probably in Normandy) Jean Goujon and "his work exhibits one of the most outstanding applications of the imported Italian Mannerist style" [online: www.kfki.hu].
Sculptor and arcjtect, from a short research it appears that, over the facades, the rest of his work is in marble. In this field he shows his ownership of art.

His masterpiece is reputed to be the panels of the Nymphs on the Fountain of the Innocents in Paris (1548-49).
Over the columns for the organ loft of the Church of Saint-Maclou, Rouen, and over:
  • Faade of the Cour Carre (wing Lescot) - 1550s - Stone - Palais du Louvre, Paris
  • War and Peace - 1550s - Stone - Palais du Louvre, Paris
  • Monument to Louis de Brz - c. 1540 - Marble - Rouen, France
  • Salle des Cariatides - 1550s - Palais du Louvre, Paris
  • Deposition from The Cross with the Four Evangelists - 1550?-60? - bas-relief - Paris
we count the following sculptures:
  • Nymph - 1548-49 - Marble - Muse du Louvre, Paris
  • Caryatides - 1550s - Palais du Louvre, Paris
  • Diane and the Stag - 1550-54 - Marble, 211 x 258 x 135 cm - Muse du Louvre, Paris
The 4 Evangelists
The 4 Evangelists
Diane and the Stag
Diane and the Stag - 1550-54
Marble, 211 x 258 x 135 cm
Muse du Louvre, Paris

Pisano, Andrea
(active c. 1290-1349 in Pisa)

Born in Pontedera, near Pisa, and there "probably trained. Considered the founder of the Florentine school of sculpture, he is best known for his relief panels on the bronze south door (1330-36) of the Florence Baptistery". His style was influenced by Giotto, of which became assistant.

He is well known for his carved stone reliefs.
Among his works there are:
  • Weaver - 1337-42 - Relief - Campanile, Duomo, Florence
  • Noah - 1336-43 - Marble - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • Painting - 1336-43 - Marble, 83 x 69 cm - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • Ploughing - 1336-43 - Marble - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • Riding - 1336-43 - Marble - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • Sculpture - 1336-43 - Marble, 83 x 69 cm - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • Work of the Ancestors - 1336-43 - Marble - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • The Creation of Eve - 1336-43 - Marble - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • Shepherd - 1336-43 - Marble - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • The Tiburtine Sibyl - Marble - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
  • Campanile - Duomo, Florence
  • Santa Reparata - Marble - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence
1336-43 - Marble
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence

Verrocchio, Andrea del
b. 1435, Firenze - d. 1488, Venezia

Informations around his biography are not very large. What we know is that he was sculptor and painter, and one of the most important figures of the Italian Renaissance, probably second only to Donatello.

Born in the family of a bricks' maker, the poverty has always been an issue in his family. Trained as goldsmith, later he started to study painting. Is controversial if he was apprentice at Donatello school. As well as it seems he was a pupil of Baldovinetti. What appears sure is he worked with Botticelli. Only after the age of 30 he started to produce his most valuable crafts.
The most remarkable remains the Equestrian Statue of Colleoni.

Among his masterpieces, over the paintings, we recall:
  • Beheading of St John the Baptist - 1477-80 - Silver - Baptistry, Florence
  • Christ and Doubting Thomas - 1476-83 - Bronze, height: 230 cm - Orsanmichele, Florence
  • Equestrian Statue of Colleoni - 1480s - Gilded bronze, height: 395 cm (without base) - Campo di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice
  • Giuliano de' Medici - 1475-78 - Terra cotta, 61 x 66 x 28,3 cm - National Gallery of Art, Washington
  • Lorenzo de Medici - 1480 - Painted terracotta - National Gallery of Art, Washington
  • Putto with Dolphin - c. 1470 - Bronze, height: 125 cm - Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
  • Portrait of a Woman - 1475-80 - Marble, height: 61 cm - Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence
  • Tomb of Piero and Giovanni de' Medici - 1469-72 - Marble, porphyry, serpentine, bronze and pietra serena, height: 540 cm - Church of San Lorenzo, Florence
  • The Young David - 1473-75 - Bronze, height: 125 cm - Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence
Equestrian Statue of Colleoni
Equestrian Statue of Colleoni - 1480s
Gilded bronze, height: 395 cm (without base)
Campo di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice

The Vischer,
Peter the Elder
- born ca. 1460, Nrnberg - dead 1529, Nrnberg
Peter the Younger - born 1487, Nrnberg - dead 1528, Nrnberg

Here we have a dinasty of sculptors; and sculptor too was the father of Peter the Elder: "Hermann the Elder (d. 1488) established the family bronze-foundry, and the business was inherited by his son Peter the Elder, the best known of the Vischers" [online: www.kfki.hu].

Of Peter the Elder really beautyful is the Kneeling Man, a work full of energy in the forms but with so even grace and really inspired.
Other works:
  • Kneeling Man - 1490 - Bronze, height: 36,8 cm - Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich
  • King Arthur - c. 1513 - Bronze - Franciscan Church, Innsbruck
Of Peter the Younger:
  • Monument of Frederick the Wise - 1527 - Bronze, height: 425 cm - Schlosskirche, Wittenberg
  • Shrine of St. Sebald - 1510s - Bronze - Sebaldskirche, Nuremberg
Kneeling Man
Kneeling Man - 1490
Bronze, height: 36,8 cm
Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich
Monument of Frederick the Wise
Monument of Frederick the Wise
1527 - Bronze, height: 425 cm
Schlosskirche, Wittenberg


Vincenzo Maggio