BRIOSCO, Benedetto
(b. ca. 1460, Milano, d. ca. 1514, Milano)


Italian sculptor. The first notice of his activity dates from 1477, when he and his brother-in-law Francesco Cazzaniga (active 1470-1488) were employed as sculptors on the monument to Giovanni Borromeo and Vitaliano Borromeo (Isola Bella, Palazzo Borromeo, chapel), which was executed for San Francesco Grande, Milan. By 1482 he had begun employment for the Fabbrica del Duomo (Cathedral Works) of Milan Cathedral. During 1483-84 it is likely that he assisted Francesco and Tommaso Cazzaniga in the execution of the tomb of Cristoforo and Giacomo Antonio della Torre (Milan, Santa Maria delle Grazie). In 1484 he and the Cazzaniga brothers began work on the tomb of Pietro Francesco Visconti di Saliceto destined for the Milanese church of Santa Maria del Carmine (destroyed). This project was completed by Briosco and Tommaso Cazzaniga following Francesco Cazzaniga's death at the beginning of 1486. In the same year Benedetto and Tommaso were commissioned to finish the tomb of Giovanni Francesco Brivio (Milan, Sant'Eustorgio), designed and begun by Francesco. Briosco's hand is virtually impossible to distinguish in these collaborative works.

In 1489 the Apostolic Prothonotary and ducal councillor Ambrogio Griffo engaged Briosco to execute his funerary monument, to be installed in the church of San Pietro in Gessate, Milan. This tomb, which in its original form consisted of an effigy mounted on a high rectangular sarcophagus, appears to be Briosco's first major independent work and represents a significant break with Lombard tradition. In 1490 Briosco returned to Milan Cathedral, where he was engaged to carve four life-size statues each year until he or his employers should cancel the arrangement. Although he worked at the cathedral until mid-1492, only a figure of St Agnes (Milan, Museo del Duomo) is documented from this period.

In July 1492 Briosco was hired by Amadeo as his assistant at the Certosa di Pavia and was probably at first chiefly occupied with decorations for the façade of the church. By 1494 or 1495 he was working there with Gian Cristoforo Romano on the monument to Gian Galeazzo Visconti, 1st Duke of Milan in the right transept. Briosco's signed statue of the Virgin and Child on the upper register of this monument is in the full Roman Classical style imported by Romano; at considerable variance with the St Agnes, it may well have been designed by Gian Cristoforo. Towards the end of the 1490s Amadeo and Briosco began work on the main portal of the church of the Certosa. Amadeo relinquished all responsibility for the façade in 1499, and the portal was completed by Briosco and assistants. The reliefs that encrust the portal have a liveliness and, at times, an almost foppish elegance that distinguishes them from Amadeo's more sober contribution.

In 1506 Briosco was engaged by officials of the church of San Tommaso, Cremona, to execute a large reliquary to house the remains of the martyr saints Peter and Marcellino. Although work proceeded intermittently until 1513, the project was never finished; the reliefs carved by Briosco are installed in the recomposed monument in the crypt of Cremona Cathedral.

In 1508 Briosco and Antonio della Porta took over responsibility for the construction and decoration of the façade of the Certosa di Pavia. Benedetto was partially occupied with this project until at least 1513.

Briosco is a transitional figure. Formed in the Cazzaniga workshop and influenced by Amadeo, he nonetheless absorbed some of the lessons offered by Gian Cristoforo Romano, Cristoforo Solari and other sculptors of the younger generation. His son Francesco and his probable apprentice Bambaia emerged during the second decade of the 16th century as exponents of the 'modern', Romanizing style.