(b. ca. 1428, Settignano, d. 1464, Firenze)


Florentine sculptor (real name: Desiderio de Bartolommeo di Francesco detto Ferro). Like most of his contemporaries he formed his style on Donatello's work of the 1430s. He learnt from Donatello the practice of carving in very low relief, and the lively, thick-set figures of children on the Singing Gallery made by Donatello for Florence Cathedral (1433-39) provided models for Desiderio's own reliefs of the Madonna and Child.

Desiderio's artistic personality, however, was more delicate than Donatello's, and for refinement of handling he is unsurpassed by any Italian sculptor of his period. His only important public work was the tomb of the Florentine humanist and statesman Gregorio Marsuppini in Santa Croce (after 1453). This is architecturally dependent on the tomb of Leonardo Bruni by Bernardino Rossellino (probably Desiderio's teacher), executed for the same church about ten years earlier, but is sculpturally richer and more animated. His sensitive modelling is best exemplified in his portrait busts of women, good examples of which are in Florence (Bargello) and Washington (National Gallery of Art).