Vincenzo Danti, the author of the Trattato delle perfette proporzioni (1567), died on May 26, 1576. Danti, along with Giambologna and Ammanati, was one of the most influential mannerist sculptors of his age.
Born in Perugia in April 1530, Danti trained as a goldsmith and was in Rome between 1548 and 1553 before returning to his birthplace to complete the portrait statue of Julius III that stands outside the Cathedral.
Danti became a member of the newly founded Accademia del Disegno in Florence in 1563. He remained in Florence until May of 1573 when his fortunes shifted and he fell out of favor with Francesco I de’Medici. His career concluded with him serving as architect to the city of Perugia where he was responsible for public works projects including the renovation of the city walls. John Summer, in his monograph on Vincenzo Danti, also notes that the sculptor was a mineralogist who was instrumental in the opening of the marble quarries in Seravezza.
Summer argues that many scholars have not done justice to the study of Danti’s oeuvre because to do so requires a critical distance from Michelangelo’s sculptural work. Michael Cole takes this further by focusing not on the kind of criticism that results in value judgments but rather on “the rules of the game” for sculpture production in Florence under the reign of Duke Cosimo I. (10) Cole studies Danti’s sculptural work by placing him in conversation and competition with Ammanati and Giambologna; he also considers the viewer experience of the urban landscape.
It is evident that each sculptor approached the design of his monumental sculpture in Florence from the perspective of an architect or urban planner. In fact, in his treatise, Danti emphasized order and proportion and argued that the “success” of a sculptured body depended on “qualitative and quantitative” rightness based on architectural theory. This focus led him to explore increasingly abstract forms. (Cole, 177-178)
Summer and Cole agree that Danti was one of the “most technically gifted sculptors” of his age. (Cole, 14)
References: Cole, Michael W. Ambitious Form: Giambologna, Ammanati, and Danti in Florence. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011; John David Summers. The Sculpture of Vincenzo Danti: A Study in the Influence of Michelangelo and the Ideals of the Maniera. New York: Garland, 1979.
Valerio Cioli, Bust of Vincenzo Danti. San Domenico, Perugia. (Sailko, Wikimedia Commons)
Pope Julius III, Duomo, Perugia (1555) (G.dallorto, Wikimedia Commons)
Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, Baptistery, Florence (1569-71) (Sailko, Wikimedia Commons)
Further reading: Charles Davis Beatrice. I Grandi Bonzi del Battistero. Florence: Giunto Editore, S.P.A, 2008; Peta Motture. The Culture of Bronze: Making and Meaning in the Italian Renaissance. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2019.