(b. ca. 1531, Firenze, d. 1608, Firenze)


Bernardo Buontalenti (Bernardo delle Girandole), Italian architect, engineer, designer, painter and inventor. He was one of the great Renaissance polymaths and was not only admired but also liked by his contemporaries. A friend of princes, he spent most of his life at the Tuscan court, but his influence stretched throughout Europe.

He entered the service of the Medici as a youth and remained with them the rest of his life. He is said to have been instructed in painting by Salviati and Bronzino, in sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti, in architecture by Giorgio Vasari, and to have learned miniature painting under Giulio Clovio. He executed a number of miniatures for Francesco, the son of Cosimo I. More than a painter, he was celebrated as an architect; in this role he was much employed in the design of fortifications, villas, and gardens and is considered one of the most important architects of the Mannerist period. He was also a great mechanic, and an excellent mathematician.

His main achievements include the project for the new city of Livorno, the decoration of Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens with the famous grotto. In the Uffizi Palace of Florence, he built a great court stage, where, during the winter of 1585-1586, splendid festivities were produced under his direction. He designed costumes for the Medici extravaganzas.