(b. 1474, Canapale, d. 1554, Vallombrosa)


Italian sculptor, active also in England. The son of Bartolommeo de' Grazzini, Benedetto took his name from the town outside Florence where he owned a farm. His earliest known works are a marble singing-gallery of 1499 (Genoa, Santo Stefano) and the figures of Louis, Duke of Orléans, and his wife Valentina Visconti (1502; marble; Paris, St Denis), for the tomb of the Dukes of Orléans, which was commissioned from four artists by Louis XII.

In 1505 Benedetto went to Florence and began his most ambitious work, the marble sepulchre of St Giovanni Gualberto for Santa Trinità. Substantially completed by 1515, the monument was wrecked during the Siege of Florence in 1530; several surviving reliefs (Florence, San Salvi) demonstrate Benedetto's rather hard, linear figural style. In 1508 he completed ('rinettato') Michelangelo's bronze David (untraced). The tomb of Piero Soderini (marble; Florence, Santa Maria del Carmine; damaged and rebuilt in the 18th century) was finished by 1510, and the marble St John the Evangelist (Florence Cathedral) by 1513.

Benedetto was in England by 1524, remaining until at least 1536. There he made a tomb with many bronze statuettes for Cardinal Wolsey, which Henry VIII later claimed for himself (destroyed. 1646; marble, gilt bronze and touchstone; sarcophagus now part of Nelson's tomb in St Paul's Cathedral, London).

In Florence again by 1543, Benedetto became blind some time later. The work generally considered to be his last, the Sernigiani Altar (Florence, Santa Trinità), inscribed 1552, was assembled from fragments of the Gualberto monument. According to Vasari, he died 'a few years' after 1550. An almost exact contemporary of Michelangelo, Benedetto continued an essentially 15th-century style well into the 16th century.

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