Pollaiolo (1431-1498) (Antonio Benci)

"Pollaiolo (1431-1498) (Antonio Benci)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 28th April 2011

Antonio Benci, named Pollaiolo, (Florence circa1431 - Rome 1498); and Piero Benci, named Pollaiolo (Florence 1443 - Rome 1496), Italian painters, sculptors and gold smiths. The most famous of two brothers, sons of chickens vendor (chicken=pollo, which gave the nick-name "pollaiolo") was Antonio, one of the most important Florentine artists in the second half of the 15th century. He began as a gold smith, and continued this activity for the whole of his life: base for the silver cross of the church San Giovanni (Florence, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo); cross-relic for the Abbey of San Pancrazio (1461), relief for the church San Giovanni (1477-1480) (Florence, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo).

But when he had to work over the statues of big dimensions in bronze and terracotta (never in marble): Busto di guerriero (pictured) (Florence, Mus.Naz.del Borgello), Antonio remained faithful to the particular elaboration of every single part of the statue: burial monuments of Sixtus IV (1484-1492) (Grotte Vaticane), and of Innocent VIII (1492-1498) (St Peter's).
pollaiolo guariero
The most famous works of Pollaiolo-painter are: Martirio di San Sebastiano; Apollo e Dafne (both in London, Nat.Gall.); David (Berlin, Staatl.Mus); Ratto di Deianira (New Haven, Connecticut, Yall University Art Gallery); famous and lost Fatiche di Ercole (1460), created for Piero de'Medici, traces of this work remained in two tablets (Florence, Uffizi) and bronze statue Ercole e Anteo (see below) (Florence, Mus. del Bargello).

The other works of Pollaiolo are frescoes Danza di nudi (Florence, Villa della Gallina); portrait Profilo di donna (Profile of a woman) (pictured) (Milan, Mus.Poldi).

Antonio was one of the first engravers and in Battaglia dei dieci ignudi his style is particularly valuable because of the new techniques applied.

His brother Piero worked very often side by side with Antonio: tablet and frescoes in San Miniato in Florence; Martirio di San Sebastiano and Ratto di Deianira, tombs of popes in St.Peter's; but he worked independently from Antonio as well: tablets with Virtu' (1469) (Florence, Uffizi). The art critics consider those works, realized with the help of Piero, weaker in artistic sense than purely Antonio's creations.
pollaiolo ritratto pollaiolo ercole

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