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Entries in Italian Art (1)

Friday
Aug162019

Daniele Da Volterra: A Michelangesque Mannerist

Daniele da Volterra - Michelangelo Buonaroti - c. 1544 - Oil on wood - 34 3/4 x 25 1/4 in. (88.3 x 64.1 cm) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkOne of the works featured here has only recently been identified as the work of Daniele da Volterra (1509-1566) Michelangelo’s faithful follower and the author of a bronze bust of the great Florentine artist. Indeed, an inventory drawn up after Daniele's death lists "a portrait of Michelangelo on panel." It was probably painted about 1545, when Michelangelo would have been seventy. It was the source for numerous copies. The portrait looks unfinished, but Daniele has fully described the sculptor's features and his left hand, almost as though recalling Michelangelo's notion that, "It is necessary to keep one's compass in one's eyes and not in the hand, for the hands execute, but the eye judges.”

Daniele da Volterra - Bust of Michelangelo - Bronze, black patina, on black marble plinth - height: 13.8 in. (35 cm) - Musée du Louvre, Paris (click photo for larger image)Daniele da Volterra was a Mannerist painter and sculptor who probably first studied in Siena. Sometime after 1535 he moved to Rome. While there, he became a pupil and close friend of Michelangelo. He painted significant a fresco frieze in the Massimi Palace depicting the story of Fabius Maximus. That same year he painted his most famous work, the Descent from the Cross, in the Orsini Chapel of the church of Trinità dei Monti in Rome. He also painted Massacre of the Innocents and David Killing Goliath, among others.

In 1559 Pope Paul IV assigned him the task of painting in draperies to cover the nudity of many of the figures in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. For his performance of this task Daniele earned the nickname Il Braghettone (or Brachettone; “The Breeches Maker”), as well as an undeserved posthumous reputation as a prude.