(b. 1409, Settignano, d. 1464, Firenze)


Florentine sculptor, brother of Antonio Rossellino (1427-79). Bernardo worked as an architect as well as a sculptor and he combined both arts in his chief work - the tomb of the great humanist and Chancellor of the Florentine Republic, Leonardo Bruni, in Santa Croce, Florence (1444-50). It is based on the monument of the antipope John XXIII (Baldassare Cossa) by Donatello and Michelozzo in the Baptistery in Florence, and although less powerful, is more graceful and harmonious; the pilasters framing the serene effigy, lying on a bier, have a dignity and elegance almost worthy of Brunelleschi. It became the model for the niche tomb for the rest of the century.

As an architect, he worked in Florence as a mason and supplier of materials (from 1441) on the cloister (1436–37) of Santa Maria della Campora in Florence Cathedral and in San Miniato al Monte (1443–50).

From 1451 to 1453 Bernardo was in Rome as an Ingenere di Palazzo to Pope Nicholas V. Among the numerous projects attributed to Bernardo by the Papal biographer Giannozzo Manetti (1396–1459) and by Vasari, only two are securely documented: hoists for the new tower situated at the west end of the Covered Way as a defensive counterpart of Castel Sant'Angelo, and the remodelling of San Stefano Rotondo, where he carried out reinforcement works and roofing, and built windows, marble doors and altars in a sober, classical style to harmonize with the old building.

Bernardo's most important architectural project was the reconstruction (1460–64) of Corsignano, the birthplace of Pope Pius II, which was renamed Pienza in 1461. Here the most important feature was a new town centre with a piazza bordered by the cathedral, Palazzo Piccolomini, the Episcopal Palace, the Palazzo Communale and the rectory. The whole complex was designed to create a unified perspectival effect, reinforced by the geometric pattern of the pavement. It is undoubtedly one of the most important works of 15th-century urban planning.