By Anne Leader

Sculptor Baccio Bandinelli was born on 17 October 1493 in the Tuscan village of Gaiole in Chianti. The son of a goldsmith who worked for the Medici, Baccio also worked for the family, remaining loyal to them even during their exile at the turn of the sixteenth century. His devotion served him well, as he received numerous commissions during the papacies of the Medici popes Leo X and Clement VII and continued to find favor under Grand Duke Cosimo de’Medici. He was not popular with many of his peers, however, including his rivals Michelangelo Buonarroti and Benvenuto Cellini. Jealous of Bandinelli’s success with the Medici, Cellini scathingly criticized his Hercules and Cacus, faulting its proportions and claiming that the hero’s “shoulders resemble the two pommels of an ass’s pack-saddle; his breasts and their muscles bear no similitude to those of a man, but seem to have been drawn from a sack of melons.” Despite these and other early critics, above all Giorgio Vasari, Bandinelli is recognized today as a gifted draftsman and commendable sculptor, if not the equal of Michelangelo and Cellini.

Reference: Charles Avery. “Bandinelli, Baccio.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. .

Further reading: Baccio Bandinelli And Art At The Medici Court: Corpus Of Early Modern Sources by Louis A. Waldman (2004); The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini

Hercules and Cacus, 1525-34, marble, Piazza della Signoria, Florence.

Seated Male Nude, c. 1516-20, red chalk over faint traces of black chalk, The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund 1998.6.

Pietà, 1554-59, Santissima Annunziata, Florence.

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