BREGNO, Andrea
(b. 1418, Osteno, d. 1503, Roma)

Biography

Italian sculptor, part of a family of sculptors and architects. They were active in the 15th and the early 16th century. One of the most important and extensive family dynasties in Italian Renaissance sculpture, the Bregni came from the village of Righeggia, near Osteno on Lake Lugano. Active primarily in northern Italy (Lombardy, Emilia, and the Veneto), a few Bregni also worked in central Italy. Several Bregno artists are documented, although the precise familial relationship between most of them is still unclear. The most important artists in the family were (Antonio Bregno, Andrea Bregno, Giovanni Battista Bregno and Lorenzo Bregno.

Nothing is known of Andrea Bregno's activity until his arrival in Rome in the 1460s, although his early works betray a Lombard training. During the pontificate of Sixtus IV he became the most popular and prolific sculptor of his day, with a large and well-organized bottega. He worked mainly on the decoration of tombs of prelates and dignitaries of the papal court. Bregno became famous in his lifetime, from the 1460s he became the most popular sculptor of his day in Rome. He was mentioned, together with Verrocchio, by Giovanni Santi in La vita e le geste di Federico di Montefeltro duca d'Urbino, written between 1484 and 1487. The writer of a funeral epitaph actually compared him with Polykleitos.

Bregno's work is characterized by great refinement and technical skill. Although he was often not particularly inventive, he was certainly a fine sculptor of grotesques and other forms of ornamentation. He soon fell under the influence of Tuscan models, probably as a result of his contact with Mino da Fiesole, with whom he worked in Rome. There his style became more classical and its design more compact, with precise references to antique sculpture: documents show that he possessed a collection of antique objects recovered from excavations. He was also a friend of Platina, who held him in high esteem, as he wrote in a letter to Lorenzo the Magnificent.

He run a large workshop (which included Mino da Fiesole) producing principally grand wall-tombs, which make up in the quality of their execution for their stereotyped design. The chief examples, all in Rome, are in S.M. in Aracoeli, S.M. sopra Minerva, S.M. del Popolo and SS. Apostoli.