Self-portrait by Baccio Bandinelli

Self-portrait by Baccio Bandinelli

Baccio Bandinelli (1493-1560)

Bartolommeo Bandinelli (also known as Bartolommeo Brandini and called Baccio) was a High Renaissance Italian sculptor, painter and draughtsman. Although skilled in smaller-scale sculpture, and popular with the Florentine Medici family, he is seen as one of the more controversial Renaissance sculptors, being remembered more for his unpleasant character and for the antipathy of his cinquecento contemporaries, than the quality of his works.

In particular, he was obsessed with comparing himself to Michelangelo, often undertaking large scale monumental sculptures in an attempt to compete for recognition. His best known statue is Hercules and Cacus (1525-34, Piazza della Signoria, Florence).

Born in in Florence, Bandinelli apprenticed in goldsmithing under his father. He then went on to study under the sculptor Giovanni Francesco Rustici, a friend of Leonardo da Vinci. One of Bandinelli’s earliest works of Italian Renaissance sculpture was a figure of Saint Jerome, carved in wax and commissioned by Giuliano de Medici. From early on his career, Bandinelli seems to have developed a deep jealousy of Michelangelo. According to Giorgio Vasari the Italian Renaissance historian and biographer - who was also a student in Bandinelli's workshop - Bandinelli once tore up a drawing by Michelangelo out of sheer hatred for the Florentine genius.

For a list of the world's most
talented 3-D artists, see:
Greatest Sculptors.

For different types of carving,
and modelling, see:
Stone Sculpture
From igneous, sedimentary,
and metamorphic rocks.
Marble Sculpture
Pentelic, Carrara, Parian marbles.
Bronze Sculpture
Lost-wax casting method,
sandcasting, centrifugal casting.

For details, see:
History of Sculpture.

For a list of the world's top 100
3-D artworks, see:
Greatest Sculptures Ever.

Bandinelli was an excellent draughtsman and small scale sculptor. Some of his terracotta statuettes are stunning. However, it was his morbid fascination with large scale monuments, accentuated by his desire to imitate Michelangelo that became his driving force.

Contemporaries claimed that Bandinelli was not skilled enough for grand scale works, and he was to live within hearing distance of their jeers. In 1525 he began work on a colossal Hercules and Cacus for the Piazza della Signoria, Florence. The commission was originally destined for Michelangelo, but he was busy working on the Medici Chapel at the time. Michelangelo's statue of Victory already stood on the Piazza. In comparison, Bandinelli's figures of Hercules and Cacus look rigid and their facial grimaces are deeply etched caricatures. In the same year, 1525, Bandinelli began work on a replica of the famous marble statue Laocoon and His Sons (c.42-20 BCE) (then in the Vatican Museums), representing the Trojan priest and his two sons being crushed to death by snakes as a penalty for warning the Trojans against the wooden horse of the Greeks. Bandinelli was commissioned to copy the famous 1st/2nd century Greek sculpture (attributed by the Roman author Pliny the Elder to three Hellenistic sculptors from the island of Rhodes: Agesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus) - a task he executed beautifully, making some of his own modifications and additions.

In 1554, Bandinelli started work on his Pieta (1554-59, SS. Annunziata, Florence). Vasari relates that when Bandinelli heard Michelangelo was carving a Pieta for his tomb, he immediately began to plan his own. He finished the work just before his death six years later. Like Michelangelo's version, Bandinelli's Pieta includes an idealised self-portrait of Christ being supported by Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus. Many however considered Bandinelli's Christ too muscular and strangely portioned. The amount of marble carved out of the block is astounding yet this 'anti-Michelangelesque' practice would become an artistic trend in future years.

Note About Art Appreciation
To learn how to judge plastic artists like the High Renaissance sculptor Baccio Bandinelli, see: How to Appreciate Sculpture. For later works, please see: How to Appreciate Modern Sculpture.

Florentine Mannerists

Bandinelli became leader of a group of Florentine Mannerists who were united by their interest of reviving the style and principles of Donatello. In 1529 Bandinelli unveiled his relief Deposition to Charles V at Genoa to some acclaim. Although the relief is now lost, a bronze copy, by the sculptor Antonio Susini (1600, Louvre Museum, Paris), displays the decisive intensity of Donatello.

Bandinelli died in Florence in 1560. History has not been kind to him, destined to be compared (unfavourably) to Michelangelo in his own time as today. Even the biographer Vasari was to write disparagingly 'He did nothing but make bozzetti and finished little'. However, some of Bandinelli’s surviving works prove him to have been a more distinguished sculptor than his contemporaries may have allowed. Bandinelli was survived by his two sons, Clemente and Michelangelo Bandinelli, both successful sculptors in their own right.

Neptune (1528-29, Piazza del Duomo, Carrara).
Andrea Doria, commander of the imperial navy, sculpted as Neptune. This was the first Renaissance portrayal of a contemporary ruler as a nude Roman God. The classical sculpture is alert and vigilant, a bearded counterpart to Michelangelo's Florentine David, whose stance and bearing Bandinelli clearly copied.

Self-Portrait Painting (c.1530, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston).
The artist is seated in an impressive classical architectural setting, pointing to a drawing of two male nudes. It has been suggested the nudes represent Hercules and Cacus, the subject of Bandinelli's most famous sculpture. See also Male Nudes in Art History.

Tombs of the Medici Popes Leo X and Clement VII
(1536-41, Santa Maria sopra Minerva).
Bust of Cosimo I de' Medici
(c.1539-40, Metropolitan Museum of Art).
Monument to Giovanni delle Bande Nere
(1540-54, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence)
Adam and Eve
(1551, Bargello, Florence). Originally created for the Duomo Florence.

• For the history and types of sculpture, see: Homepage.
• For the evolution and development of the visual arts, see: History of Art.

Head of a bearded man

This is a marble relief with the head of a bearded man, made by Baccio Bandinelli in Florence in about 1550-60. The relief is initialled in the same way as several of Bandinelli's Prophets for the choir of Florence Cathedral and the technique is closely similar. The treatment of the hair and profile relates to a self-portrait of Bandinelli in the Louvre, Paris, but the facial features are different.

Bandinelli (1493-1560) was an Italian sculptor, painter and draughtsman. He was the son of Michelangelo Viviano (1459-1528), a prominent Florentine goldsmith, who was in the good graces of the Medici and who taught Cellini and Raffaello da Montelupo.

Bandinelli is one of the principal Florentine mannerist sculptors. He is best known for his colossal group of Hercules and Cacus (completed 1534) outside the Palazzo della Signoria, Florence and for his hostility to Michelangelo.

Self-Portrait by Baccio Bandinelli

When Isabella Stewart Gardner purchased this self-portrait by the Florentine artist Baccio Bandinelli from the London dealer Colnaghi & Co. in 1899, she did so in the belief that it was a portrait of Michelangelo by Sebastiano del Piombo.

Bandinelli was Michelangelo’s great rival. He was also one of the most loathed figures of the High Renaissance. “No-one could endure him,” according to Giorgio Vasari, who wrote Bandinelli’s biography in parallel with Michelangelo’s. “His abusive language lost him all goodwill and obscured his talent, so that men viewed his works askance and never liked them.”

In the course of his celebrated autobiography, Benvenuto Cellini, who competed directly with Bandinelli and was basically in Michelangelo’s camp, described his rival as a liar, a brute, and a beast. His face, he added for good measure, was “hideous beyond measure.”

A little harsh, perhaps but going by the evidence presented by Bandinelli himself, Cellini may have had a point. With his forked beard, his long, flaring nose, his cropped hair, and his glowering eyes, Bandinelli no doubt frightened a few children in his time.

But what’s equally clear — though Cellini vociferously denied it — is that he was an extraordinarily accomplished artist.

Bandinelli had made his career serving the Medici family in a period that saw them ousted from Florence, the seat of their power, and then returned, to the chagrin of Florentine republicans.

Unlike Michelangelo, he had not worked for the interim government, and so his status as the city’s official sculptor was well entrenched by the time of this painting (around 1545-50). Bandinelli shows himself in glossy black garb, with, around his neck, a heavy gold chain with a shell — the emblem of the Imperial Order of Santiago, bestowed on him by the Emperor Charles V.

More than his alleged habit of lying, his hubris, or his hated appearance, the source of the widespread loathing directed at Bandinelli was in fact the red-chalking drawing to which he points in the picture with such evident pride.

The drawing is a study for the sculptural commission that secured Bandinelli’s reputation — his reputation, that is, as a schmuck. Or, as Shakespeare might have put it, “a rascal an eater of broken meats . . . [a] glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue.”

The commission was to adorn the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio (the great town hall of Florence). Challenging Michelangelo’s “David,” it was to be a dynamic sculpture showing the Greek hero Hercules vanquishing the fire-eating monster Cacus.

Cellini, for one, didn’t like the result: He attacked its “poverty of art,” comparing Hercules’ shoulders to “the two pommels of an ass’s pack saddle” and the muscles of his body to “a big sack full of melons set upright against a wall.” He wasn’t alone. When the sculpture was carried into the square to be erected, people threw stones at it.

The problem, of course, was political more than aesthetic. The Medici intended the sculpture to symbolize their triumphant return to power. The people of Florence knew it, and deeply resented it.

Even worse, as far as Vasari and Cellini were concerned, the commission was supposed to be Michelangelo’s. But his collaboration with Florence’s interim republican government meant that he had fallen from favor, which is why Bandinelli, who had long been angling for it, got the job instead.

I read this painting, then, less as a self-portrait than as a taunt — a real, Renaissance-style nose-rubbing — aimed at Michelangelo.

The picture hangs in the Gardner’s Titian Room, but on Monday it will come down for four months and be sent to a show in, appropriately, Florence.

Possible Self-Portrait of Baccio Bandinelli

This is a marble relief with the head of a bearded man, made by Baccio Bandinelli in Florence in about 1550-60. The relief is initialled in the same way as several of Bandinelli's Prophets for the choir of Florence Cathedral and the technique is closely similar. The treatment of the hair and profile relates to a self-portrait of Bandinelli in the Louvre, Paris, but the facial features are different.
Bandinelli (1493-1560) was an Italian sculptor, painter and draughtsman. He was the son of Michelangelo Viviano (1459-1528), a prominent Florentine goldsmith, who was in the good graces of the Medici and who taught Cellini and Raffaello da Montelupo.
Bandinelli is one of the principal Florentine mannerist sculptors. He is best known for his colossal group of Hercules and Cacus (completed 1534) outside the Palazzo della Signoria, Florence and for his hostility to Michelangelo.

Gallery location:
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64, The Wolfson Gallery

Florence day 4 (continuation 11)

In 1504, the David was placed to the left of the entrance against the high facade wall of the Palazzo Vecchio. Soon it was decided that a second statue should be placed next to the David. 255 In 1508, Soderini ordered a marble block of 9.5 braccia (554 cm) high and 5 braccia (291 cm) deep. However, this block was only delivered in 1525. At the insistence of Medici Pope Clemens VII, Michelangelo did not get the marble block, but Baccio Bandinelli. According to Vasari the evil genius Domenico Boninsegni was behind this. Domenico and Michelangelo were not at great terms. Vasari describes in ‘The Life of Bandinelli’ among other things why His Holiness, the Pope, decided to assign Baccio the block:

‘He [Boninsegni] claimed that His Holiness would benefit from the competition of two such great personalities and would be served with more diligence and drive by stimulating competition for his work. Domenico’s advice pleased the Pope, and he acted accordingly. When Baccio was assigned the marble, he made a large model of wax. It represented Hercules holding the head of Cacus between two stones with a knee with his left arm he held him firmly while he held him between his legs in a bent and painful position and Cacus was clearly suffering by the violence and weight of Hercules on top of him, while every muscle was tense. Similar with Hercules, who turned his head towards his troubled enemy, and biting his teeth, he raises his right arm to hit his opponent’s skull with another blow of his club.’ 256

The strange fate of a large block of marble

Vasari writes the following about the large marble block used for the Hercules and Cacus:

‘Baccio was sent to Carrara to see the block of marble, and he ordered the overseers of the Works of Santa Maria del Fiore to transport the marble over water to Signa across the river Arno. When the marble arrived near Florence, eight miles away, they began to take [the block] from the water and put it on land, because the river from Signa to Florence was too shallow, but [the block] fell into the river and, because of its size, it was so fixed in the mud that the overseers were unable to pull it out. Because the Pope wanted the marble back by any means, Piero Rosselli, a experienced, smart engineer, was commissioned by the Works to divert the course of the river and drain the bank. Using winches and hoists he takes [the block] out of the Arno and brought it to land. He was highly praised for this […] As the marble was pulled out of the river and the completion was delayed due to difficulties, Baccio noticed that this block was not suitable for carving the figures of the first model, either in height or width. He therefore went to Rome with his measurements, and let the pope know that he was forced to abandon the first design and make another one.’

Thus Vasari in his Life about Bandinelli, quoted from Ghislain Kieft, ‘The brain of Michelangelo Art, Art Theory and the Construction of the Image in the Italian Renaissance’, Thesis Utrecht 1994 p. 38

Bandinelli and his Hercules and Cacus

If you take a closer look at the wax model, which Baccio says was not ‘suitable for carving the figures’, there is an unprecedented difficultà. Although, after 1991 there are different opinions about the attribution of the wax model to Bandinelli. 257

Pierre Puget or Bandinelli? ‘Hercules kills Cacus’ wax model large

We have already looked at and discussed such a difficulty in the strongly protruding arm of the Bacchus of Sansovino. Hercules’ arm not only protrudes far, but he also has a club in his hands at an angle of ninety degrees to his hand. This is technically an almost impossible task for a sculptor. According to Kieft, the assumption seems justified that Bandinelli has bluffed and that ‘at the last hour, he backed away from the task he set himself.’ 258 Bandinelli starts designing again and makes a drawing which he also shows in his self-portrait.

Baccio Bandinelli ‘Self-portrait’ 147 x 112cm c. 1530 large

Finally, he makes two models of which the Pope chooses one: ‘one in which Hercules clamps Cacus between his legs and holds him like a prisoner by grabbing him by his hair’. And they agreed to implement and make this model’ 259

In 1527, after the Sacco di Rome, Pope Clemens VII had to flee. In Florence, the Medici immediately lost their power and this not without consequences for Baccio and his statue. Bandinelli fled to Lucca. Buonarroti took an active part in the new republican regime, among other things by designing defensive works. One of his remarkable drawings (bastion) we have already seen and discussed on the days of architecture. On August 22, 1528, a contract was signed in which Michelangelo received the order for the pendant. Vasari recounts what happened after the block of marble was shown to Buonarroti:

‘[…] Baccio had worked with the model of Hercules and Cacus, with the intention of assigning Michelangelo to carve two figures from it, if the marble had not been worked too much. Michelangelo, however, while looking at the stone, thought of a different subject. He left Hercules and Cacus for what it was, and took Samson as his subject, who held two defeated Philistines beneath him, one completely dead and the other barely alive, while Samson is about to kill him with a donkey’s jawbone.’

Thus Vasari, quoted from: Ghislain Kieft, ‘The brain of Michelangelo Art, Art Theory and the Construction of the statue in the Italian Renaissance’, Thesis Utrecht 1994 p. 41

It will be clear by now that getting three figures out of a single block of marble is considerably more difficult than getting two. If Michelangelo had been able to implement his ideas, he would indeed have surpassed Bandinelli. Unfortunately for Michelangelo, ‘after the return of the Medici the marble block went back to Baccio.’ 260

Bandinelli ‘Hercules and Cacus’ large Large size

Bandinelli ‘Head of Hercules’ statue

Hercules and Cacus: carved from one block of marble just like the pendant David?

Michelangelo’s David was ex uno lapide just like the best work of art of Antiquity. It was Pliny the Elder who described the Laocoon as: ‘A work better than any other art of painting and sculpture ever made. Created from a single block of stone made by Hagesandros, Athenodoros and Polydoros of Rhodes […]’ Ex uno lapide was not correct: the sculpture turned out to consist of five blocks when it was discovered on 14 January 1506. The question whether Bandinelli used one block of marble for his sculpture must certainly be answered negatively after 1994. A restoration in that year made it clear that the Hercules and Cacus consists of no less than twenty pieces of marble. Michelangelo wanted to fight the antiques, which is why using one block was a must for him. Baccio Bandinelli only kept up the appearance of one block: he used twenty pieces of marble to overcome the physical limitations of the block . 261 He condemned Bandinelli for using multiple marble blocks, although he strongly underestimated the number of marble parts of Baccio’s Hercules and Cacus. Baccio’s process of addition was a no-no for Michelangelo:marble was to be carved away, not added.

The story of Cacus and Hercules

The theme of Hercules and Cacus was typically Florentine: male nudes in battle. Pollaiuolo did this with his ‘battle of ten naked warriors‘ and the young Michelangelo had also carved his battle relief as we have already seen in the Casa Buonarroti. The artist was not so much interested in telling a story as in demonstrating how cleverly you can sculpt, draw or paint. This of course also applies to Leonardo’s ‘Anghiari’ and Michelangelo’s ‘Cascina’ as we will discuss on the days of painting.

The story of Hercules and Cacus is about the hero who frees the city of Rome from a villain. Cacus lived in a cave and constantly attacked travelers in the city of Rome. When Hercules and his herd reach the Tiber and the Aventine, he takes a break. As soon as he has fallen asleep, Cacus sees the chance to steal this herd. He pulls the animals into his cave by their tails, after all, this way there are no traces leading to him. When Hercules wakes up and misses his cattle, he goes in search of his herd. The traces do indeed mislead Hercules, but when he moves away from the cave, he hears the roaring of his cattle from the cave. Of course Hercules turns around and discovers the thief Cacus, who, unsurprisingly, stood no chance against this demigod. The Romans let out a sigh of relief: finally they were freed from this dangerous villain. This theme fits beautifully with the David and the Judit and Holofernes.

The installation of Hercules and Cacus in Piazza della Signoria

Unlike Michelangelo, Bandinelli did sign his statue, like this: BACCIVS BANDINELL. FLOR. FACIEBAT. MD XXXIIII The past perfect (faciebat: was [me] making) refers to Pliny’s anecdote about the signature of the great classical artists and goes back to what Pliny writes about the way in which Apelles and Polyclitus signed their work. They signed with a provisional title like Faciebat. Apelles (Polyclitus), as if art is always a moment in a process. At the same time, the word ‘faciebat’ shows a modest attitude, as it is not yet complete.

Pedestal front large size

Around 1534 this was no longer unusual, in contrast to the time of the Pietà of Michelangelo as described in the story about St. Peter. Critics of Bandinelli made a pun on his signature: ‘O, Baccius faciebat Bandinello’. The signature is prominently present on the coloured marble of the pedestal, something that was highly unusual. 263 Moreover, in the sixteenth century, this place -the pedestal- was predestined for a text about the client, in this case the Medici. By placing his ‘signature’ here, the artist Bandinelli identifies himself with the Medici.

When Bandinelli’s statue is transported from the Opera del Duomo to Piazza della Signoria (Vecchio), it is pelted with stones. The inhabitants of the city did not care about the rule of the Medici. The stoning is reminiscent of what had happened thirty years earlier in Florence during the transport of Michelangelo’s David. When the statue of Hercules and Cacus was installed on 1 March 1534, Bandinelli saw it in situ for the first time: he thought the muscles were too soft. He restored this, but only after a screen was placed around the statue. Again a ‘repetition’ of what Buonarroti did with his David. A few months after Bandinelli adds the finishing touch, Michelangelo leaves Florence for good in September.

The criticism of the Hercules and Cacus

The statue made by Baccio, the Hercules and Cacus, has been excommunicated from the beginning, even before completion. A phrase from a poem by Antonfrancesco Grazzini, ‘Il Lasca,’ speaks volumes in this respect: ‘O murderous thief, who kills marble and steals another man’s honor’.’ 264 The destructive criticism that descended on the statue and its maker can be explained, among other things, by republican sentiments. Needless to say, the followers of Michelangelo were not indifferent and strongly rejected Bandinelli’s work. Everyone was very dissatisfied, except the Medici. Duke Alessandro (Pontormo 1534-1535) even wanted some critics to be arrested and put behind bars: he was afraid of a new uprising. There was also fierce artistic criticism. The statue isn’t just made out of multiple blocks, but, as you can see, it’s full of errors that later had to be fixed as well as possible. When you look at the statue, you will be amazed at the pieces of marble used to fix errors. This was necessary despite the fact that Bandinelli, unlike Michelangelo, probably used a measurement model for carving his Hercules and Cacus. 265 Benedetto Varchi writes about these carving errors, referring to the Hercules and Cacus in Piazza della Signoria:

‘I will refrain from mentioning that painters can erase everything a thousand times and start over again, where this is not possible for the sculptor. Apart from the fact that for both arts we are talking about full-fledged artists, who can leave out the unnecessary with their skill, and sculptors can do the same, albeit less well and with more time and effort.

You can see that in the colossal statues, for example, that they make out of multiple pieces, either because of a lack of material, as is very common, or because of a lack of skill, as you can see from the Hercules in the Piazza, especially when that piece fell off with great injury to the one underneath it.’

As written by Benedetto Varchi (Titian) anno 1549 in his ‘Paragone’, quoted from: Ghislain Kieft, ‘The brain of Michelangelo Art, Art Theory and the Construction of the Statue in the Italian Renaissance’, Thesis Utrecht 1994 p. 67

The copy of the Laocoon

Baccio owes the commission for the Hercules and Cacus in part to the copy of the Laocoon he had made for them. 266 This true scale copy of Baccio was intended for King Francis I of France. The famous statue of the Laocoon, as mentioned earlier, was described by Pliny the Elder in his ‘Natural History’ (XXXVI.iv.37), as: ‘A work better than any other art of painting and sculpture ever made. Sculpted from one block of stone by Hagesandros, Athenodoros and Polydoros of Rhodes […]’ 267 This true scale copy of Baccio was intended for King Francis I of France. The famous statue of the Laocoon, as mentioned earlier, was described by Pliny the Elder in his ‘Natural History’ (XXXVI.iv.37), as: ‘A work better than any other art of painting and sculpture ever made. Sculpted from one block of stone by Hagesandros, Athenodoros and Polydoros of Rhodes […]’. 268 The copy of Bandinelli was made in Rome, but is now in Uffizi.

Baccio Bandinelli copy of the Laocoön Uffizi and the original Laocoön Hagesandros, Athenodoros, Polydoros of Rhodos

One problem was that at that time, the right arm of the priest, Laocoon, was missing. The arm, or at least a large part of it, was not found until the beginning of the twentieth century. Baccio made a wax arm at Giulio’s request. Copies of the Laocoon had already been made before, including by Jacopo Sansovino: a large wax model that was later cast in bronze. Bramante commissioned three other sculptors to make copies. However, these copies were not made to scale. According to Raphael, Jacopo Sansovino had won the battle, but his wax model and his bronze statue have unfortunately disappeared. Sansovino’s copy was about three times smaller than the original. Jacopo made a specialty of copying and also made versions in stucco, but all were relatively small.

Nowadays, copies of an original are certainly not seen as art, on the contrary. In the sixteenth century this was looked at very differently, because people were used to imitatio. Unlike other artists, Baccio used the same material and an identical format.

Bandinelli first made a wax model before he started the actual work. Vasari praises the copy of Baccio as follows:

‘When the marbles had come and Baccio had a fence with a roof built in Belvedere to be able to work, he started with one of the children of Laocoon, the biggest of the two, and he did this in a way that satisfied the Pope and all those who knew about it, because there was almost no difference between the antique statue and his copy.’

According to Vasari in his Life of Baccio Bandinelli’, cited from: Ghislain Kieft, ‘The brain of Michelangelo Art, Art Theory and the Construction of the Statue in the Italian Renaissance’, Thesis Utrecht 1994 p. 68

The three sculptors of the Laocoon from Rhodes had used five pieces of marble. Bandinelli used three. Michelangelo, who was keeping a close eye on competition, was informed of this remarkable fact in a letter: ‘and he [Baccio] does it in pieces,’ and this reassured Buonarroti. 269

When Cardinal Giulio calls Baccio to him and asks if he wants to make another copy, he answers that he might even be able to make one that surpasses the original. The Laocoon of Bandinelli never went to France. Clemens VII thought the statue itself was far too beautiful: he sent it to the Medici palace where it was installed.

Bandinelli’s Pietà in front of his grave: a completely different composition of a Pietà than the Duomo Pietà by Michelangelo

Baccio followed Michelangelo’s example. 270 He also made a self-portrait of the Nicodemus in the Pietà. The statue was made for his grave in the Santissima Annunziata, where it can still be seen today.

Baccio Bandinelli tomb of Bandinelli large Santissima Annunziata

Of course Baccio Bandinelli tried to surpass Michelangelo’s Pietà (Opera del Duomo) with his work, as Vasari writes: ‘To measure himself with this, [Michelangelo’s Duomo Pietà] Baccio went about making his own [grave statue] with great accuracy, and with helpers, and he did it. And for this he went looking for a place in the most important churches of Florence, where he could place it, and create a grave.’ 271 His Pietà is also carved ex uno lapido, but the composition is very different. In addition to the two figures, Bandinelli wanted to add a third freestanding figure: John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence. 272 However, this figure was lost.

Burial tomb Baccio Bandinelli

The way in which Bandinelli portrays himself in his tomb is quite different from Buonarroti’s self-portrait. 273 Michelangelo, as Nicodemus, is completely absorbed in the suffering of Christ and does not look at you. Baccio looks directly at the spectator in front of the tomb. Michelangelo suppresses his specific features in order to accentuate devotion. Baccio, on the other hand, idealises his face and looks at you self-confidently, with hardly any sorrow. Baccio is more of an intermediary between Christ and the viewer.

The ‘signature’ can be found on the block that carries the body of Christ. Baccio was afraid that he would die before the statue was completed. He instructed his son, Clemente, about what exactly should be on the block: his name as a donor, but also as a maker. DIVINIAE PIET[ATI] B. BANDINELLI H[OC]

SIBI SEPUL[CHRUM] FABREF [ACIEBAT] Dedicated to the Pietà and in the hope of divine compassion with the donor, a handmade grave with skilled art. Then there is another text: Knight in the order of Saint James, rests here with his wife Jacoba Doni under the statue of the Redeemer that he made himself

At the back of the monument Baccio and his wife are depicted again in relief. Bandinelli always used the word: faciebat. But not here: fabrefaciebat or fabrefecit. The heading is posthumous. Clemente made it to his father’s strict directions. However, the involvement of the bastard son in this work is not mentioned.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum presents sculptor&rsquos drawings from Renaissance Italy

Baccio Bandinelli, Self-Portrait, about 1545, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

BOSTON, MASS.– The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum opened a new exhibition titled Donatello, Michelangelo, Cellini: Sculptors’ Drawings from Renaissance Italy, on view from October 23, 2014, through January 19, 2015, in the Museum’s Hostetter Gallery. This international loan exhibition brings together 39 drawings and a number of related sculptures by renowned Renaissance masters, including Michelangelo, Donatello, Cellini, Bandinelli, Giambologna, and Della Robbia, many exhibited for the first time in the United States.

This exhibition—inspired by the self-portrait of Florentine artist Baccio Bandinelli and in the Gardner Museum’s collection—is the first one to do an in-depth study of the multi-faceted relationship between drawing and sculpture in Renaissance Italy. Collected throughout the centuries, drawings by Renaissance masters have been widely praised and admired. They are celebrated for their beauty and elegance, technical mastery and ingenuity, and yet the relationship between drawings and the working practices of the sculptor’s studio have been vastly understudied—until now.

In his portrait, Bandinelli, one of the most famous sculptors of his day, is not memorialized with one of his grand public monuments, but rather with a preparatory drawing of it. This emphasizes the decisive shift that occurred during the Renaissance, as drawings became valuable works of art in and of themselves, and highlights the shifting social status of artists as intellectuals instead of mere craftsmen.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is delighted to present this ground-breaking exhibition that gives visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this assembled collection of important and beautiful drawings and sculptures spanning the 200 years between Donatello and Bernini,” notes Anne Hawley, the Norma Jean Calderwood Director. “The fact that a hallmark work in the Gardner’s permanent collection has galvanized such important new scholarship in the field aligns perfectly with the Museum’s mission.”

Michael Cole, Professor of Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art at Columbia University, and Oliver Tostmann, Susan Morse Hilles Curator of European Art at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the co-curators for the exhibition, have led an international team of scholars who have contributed to the accompanying catalogue.

The goal of this exhibition,” says Cole “is to look comparatively at the graphic practices of Italian Renaissance sculptors.” In so doing, the exhibition and catalogue tell a story of professional transformation. The earliest Renaissance artists who made drawings were trained as goldsmiths, while many of the later artists who made drawings did so as they moved into the field of architecture.

In addition to several works in the Gardner’s permanent collection—including the Self-Portrait by Baccio Bandinelli and a drawing of the Pietà by Michelangelo—other highlights of the exhibition include noteworthy loans that have never before been shown in America, including Cellini’s Perseus and Andromeda from the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, Italy and Peter de Witte’s Portrait of Giambologna in his Studio from a private collection. In addition to these, other drawings are on loan from the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, and the Uffizi.

At left: Benvenuto Cellini, Satyr (detail), 1543-45, Bronze, 56.8 x 8.9 x 8.1 cm, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital image courtesy of the Getty&rsquos Open Content Program. At right: Benvenuto Cellini (detail), Satyr, 1543-45, Pen and brown ink and brown wash on paper, 416 x 203 mm, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Woodner Collection, Patron&rsquos Permanent Fund Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Benvenuto Cellini, Satyr, 1543-45, Bronze, 56.8 x 8.9 x 8.1 cm, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital image courtesy of the Getty&rsquos Open Content Program.

Benvenuto Cellini, Satyr, 1543-45, Pen and brown ink and brown wash on paper, 416 x 203 mm, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Woodner Collection, Patron&rsquos Permanent Fund Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Donatello, Donatello, David, about 1450, Pen and brown ink on paper, 288 x 204 mm, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes, © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY.

Baccio Bandinelli, Hercules from a side view, Red chalk on paper, 403 x 196 mm, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, Florence Scala / Ministero per i Beni e le Attività culturali / Art Resource, NY

Michelangelo, Pietà, about 1538-1544, black chalk on paper, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

Attributed to Peter Candid (Peter de Witte), Portrait of Giambologna in his studio, about 1585-88, Oil on canvas, 89 x 66 cm, Private Collection, on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Self Portrait

This artwork is part of the collection entitled: ARTsource and was provided by the UNT College of Visual Arts + Design to the UNT Digital Library, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. More information about this work can be viewed below.

People and organizations associated with either the creation of this artwork or its content.

Unknown Creator Role


Rights Holder

Provided By

UNT College of Visual Arts + Design

The UNT College of Visual Arts and Design fosters creative futures for its diverse student population and the region through rigorous arts-based education, arts- and client-based studio practice, scholarship, and research. One of the most comprehensive visual arts schools in the nation, the college includes many nationally and regionally ranked programs.

Contact Us

Descriptive information to help identify this artwork. Follow the links below to find similar items on the Digital Library.

Physical Description

1 sculpture : marble relief life-size


Art and Architecture Thesaurus (Getty)

Item Type


Unique identifying numbers for this work in the Digital Library or other systems.

  • Accession or Local Control No: lid0685
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc45951


This work is part of the following collection of related materials.


The licensed images of artworks in this collection supplement artworks in the Visual Resources Collection of the College of Visual Arts + Design's online image database used for instruction, study, and presentation. Included here are images of paintings, drawings, prints, architecture, material culture, sculpture, photographs, furniture, and fashion from a variety of vendors. Access to these images is restricted to the UNT community.

2. Composition

Art historians point out changing conventions of portraiture in Botticellis painting: "earlier Florentine portraits were in profile. The womans three-quarter pose, with her hand on the window frame, was Botticellis own invention." The portrait is thought to be the first example of a three-quarter pose in Florentine portrait painting. "By abandoning the profile pose traditionally used in depictions of Renaissance women, Botticelli brought a new sense of movement into the portrait."

The painting helped art historians to identify the sheer overdress worn by the Mona Lisa, a "similar" guarnello. The sitter also wears a cotta, a light summer gown.

Self-portrait by Baccio Bandinelli - History

Sotheby's London
Est. $4,743,053 - 6,809,838
Jul 02, 2021 - Jul 08, 2021

Modern British and Irish Art

Bonhams New Bond Street
Est. $3,082,558 - 4,614,669
Jun 30, 2021


Phillips London
Est. $6,339,624 - 8,985,685
Jun 30, 2021

Notable Auctions Recently Ended
Tableaux Dessins Sculptures 1300-1900, Session I

Sotheby's Paris
Total Sold Value $7,185,122
Jun 15, 2021

Maîtres Anciens, Peinture - Sculpture

Christie's Paris
Total Sold Value $4,458,895
Jun 16, 2021


Total Sold Value $1,203,271
Jun 15, 2021

Auction Lot Search (popular filters)
Upcoming Lot Search (popular filters)
Search for Exhibitions
Explore Popular Cities
Around the World
Analia Saban: View count

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
Chelsea | New York | USA
May 01,2021 - Jun 19,2021

Chen Ke: Bauhaus Gal / Room

Galerie Perrotin, Shanghai
Huangpu | Shanghai | China
Jun 15,2021 - Aug 14,2021

Body Topographies

Lehmann Maupin, London
South Kensington | London | UK
Jun 16,2021 - Sep 04,2021

Watch the video: Baccio Bandinelli at the Bargello BACCIO BANDINELLI SCULTORE E MAESTRO 1493-1560 (December 2021).