Renaissance sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni (ca. 1440-1491) was a student of Donatello, a teacher of Michelangelo, and a favourite of Lorenzo de' Medici "il Magnifico," his principal patron. Bertoldo was one of the first sculptors to create statuettes in bronze.
The book gives an overview of the artist's entire oeuvre, including The Frick Collection's Shield Bearer, the only Bertoldo sculpture outside of Europe. This major scholarly catalogue is the most substantial text on Bertoldo ever produced. Featured are contributions from renowned international scholars who bring into focus the sculptor's unique position at the heart of the artistic and political landscape in fifteenth-century Italy.
Initially, Bertoldo developed his skills under Donatello, inheriting his models and, upon the master’s death, completing the pulpits that were commissioned to adorn the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence. Bertoldo went on to gain the life-long patronage and friendship of the state’s de facto ruler, Lorenzo de’ Medici, eventually moving into the Medici palace and creating numerous objects for his patron, some of which were designed as propagandistic tools. Bertoldo was even appointed the custodian and curator of Lorenzo’s famed garden of antiquities near San Marco, where he instructed the gifted pupils studying the relics, one of whom was Michelangelo, whose creative genius flourished under the master’s guidance.
His legacy, however, was largely written out of history by Michelangelo, who fashioned his own identity as a selftaught artist divinely blessed with ability. Michelangelo’s biographers, including the art historian Giorgio Vasari, reduced Bertoldo’s role significantly, mentioning him only in passing while focusing more extensively on the pioneering creativity of Donatello, the magnificent patronage of the Medici family, and the staggering genius of Michelangelo. Modern scholarship, as a result, has largely followed this precedent.
This catalogue of the Frick Collection in New York offers a comprehensive exploration of Bertoldo’s work, reconsidering the sculptor’s associations with Donatello, Lorenzo, and Michelangelo. These relationships are reframed, thereby allowing Bertoldo to be appreciated in his own right, his artistic identity no longer overshadowed but, rather, enhanced by his connections to three of the most important figures of the Renaissance.
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