DANIELE da Volterra
(b. 1509, Volterra, d. 1566, Roma)


Daniele da Volterra (originally Daniele Ricciarelli), Italian painter, stuccoist and sculptor. He was called Volterra from the place of his birth. As a boy, he entered the studios of Bazzi (Il Sodoma) and of Baldassare Peruzzi at Siena, but he was not well received and left for Rome, where he found his earliest employment. He formed a friendship with Michelangelo, who assisted him with commissions, and with ideas and suggestions, especially for his series of paintings in one of the chapels of the Trinità dei Monti. By an excess of praise, his greatest picture, the Descent from the Cross, was at one time grouped with the Transfiguration of Raphael and the Last Communion of Domenichino, as the most famous pictures in Rome. His principal work was the Massacre of the Innocents, which he painted for the Church of St. Peter at Volterra now in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Daniele was commissioned by Paul III to complete the decoration of the Sala Regia. On the death of the pope (1549) he lost his position as superintendent of the works of the Vatican and the pension to which it entitled him. He then devoted himself chiefly to sculpture. Commissioned by Paul IV to supply draperies to some of the nude figures in the magnificent Last Judgment by Michelangelo, he thus obtained the opprobrious nickname "Breeches Maker" or "Il Bragghetone". His Victory of David over Goliath now in the Louvre, is so good that for years it was attributed to Michelangelo.

His work is distinguished by beauty of colouring, clearness, excellent composition, vigorous truth, and curiously strange oppositions of light and shade. Where he approaches closely to Michelangelo, he is an artist of great importance; where he partakes of the sweetness of Sodoma, he becomes full of mannerisms, and possesses a certain exaggerated prettiness.

Much of the fascination of his career resides in the development of his style from provincial origins to a highly sophisticated manner, combining the most accomplished elements of the art of Michelangelo, Raphael and their Mannerist followers in a distinctive and highly original way. He provided an influential model for numerous later artists in Rome.