(b. 1493, Firenze, d. 1560, Firenze)


Florentine sculptor, painter, and draughtsman. He was a favourite of the Medici family, but he is remembered more for his unattractive character and the antipathy of his contemporaries than for the quality of his work.

Probably before 1508, he had worked with the sculptor Giovanni Francesco Rustici and would therefore have been aware of the drawings and sculpture of Leonardo da Vinci, with whom Rustici was then creating the bronze group of St John the Baptist Preaching (Florence Cathedral, Baptistery). Bandinelli also learnt from them how to model sculpture in wax and clay for casting into bronze. He was awarded the commission for his first important sculpture: a St Peter in marble (1515–17), for the crossing of Florence Cathedral.

Monumental statues of muscular, nude Classical gods or heroes - often showing Hercules, but sometimes Neptune - obsessed the sculptor. Only a few of these were actually executed, but they are recorded in a plethora of drawings. He proposed to Leo X a model of David Severing Goliath's Head to replace Donatello's David (Florence, Bargello), which had been removed from the courtyard of the Palazzo Medici, Florence, by the Republicans, but instead he was commissioned to carve a statue of Orpheus (c. 1519; in situ) for this position. Its composition was derived from that of the Apollo Belvedere (Rome, Vatican, Museo Pio-Clementino), and it is accounted one of his best early works. This exercise in the style of antiquity was followed by a direct copy (c. 1520–22; Florence, Uffizi) of the famous Laocoön, the Hellenistic sculptural group that had been excavated as recently as 1506 and was also in the Belvedere of the Vatican.

Before this, Baccio was sent off to Loreto to help Andrea Sansovino with one of the large reliefs for the marble revetment of the Santa Casa inside the basilica; he made several preparatory sketches and began carving the Birth of the Virgin between 1517 and 1519 (in situ), but abandoned work about half way through (the panel was eventually finished, 1530–33, by Raffaello da Montelupo). Returning to Rome in mid-1519, Bandinelli designed a large and complex Massacre of the Innocents to be engraved (c. 1520–21) by Marco Dente. It enhanced Bandinelli's reputation internationally.

In July 1525 a colossal block of marble that had been quarried many years before at Carrara and had been intended for Michelangelo to carve a pendant to his own David was brought to Florence on the orders of the Pope and handed over to Bandinelli. In the following years Bandinelli carved out of it his colossal group of Hercules and Cacus (Piazza della Signoria, in situ), finally unveiled in 1534.

From 1525, Bandinelli was simultaneously engaged on a variety of projects, including some abortive ones for paintings. However, receiving severe criticism from Michelangelo he decided to abandon painting, though he continued to draw compositions for others to colour.

In 1529, he received a commission in Genoa to produce a monument to Admiral Andrea I Doria. This commission was abandoned in 1538, resulting only in a roughed-out group with the Admiral in the guise of Neptune standing tamely and improbably on the heads of a pair of dolphins (Carrara, Piazza del Duomo. He was rewarded with a knighthood in the Order of Santiago, which he had long coveted, and this occasioned an impressive painted Self-Portrait (Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum).

One of Bandinelli's great undertakings in the 1540s was for the Udienza, or stage, in the Salone del Cinquecento in the Palazzo della Signoria, which Cosimo had taken over as his residence. This project had to be brought to completion later on by other sculptor. The project to replace Brunelleschi's octagonal wooden choir enclosure and altar under the crossing of Florence Cathedral with a grand new marble one, decorated with bronze reliefs and marble statuary, was begun in 1547. Its balustrade survives and once contained a series of 88 upright rectangular panels of individual Old Testament figures, depicted in a great variety of poses and from different angles, in characteristically academic fashion (64 panels in situ, the rest in Florence, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo).

In his last period, Bandinelli produced, in collaboration with his son Clemente (1534–1555), an over life-size group of the Dead Christ Supported by Nicodemus, the latter given his own features, for his tomb in Santissima Annunziata. This was doubtless inspired by the knowledge that Michelangelo was working on a Pietà for his tomb (Florence, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo).

Bandinelli excelled at disegno, that combination of design and drawing that underlay contemporary artistic practice and theory. His graphic compositions and carved reliefs, both of large, complex groups and of single figures in sophisticated poses, have been universally admired.