NOVELLI, Antonio
(b. 1600, Castelfranco di Sotto, d. 1662, Firenze)


Italian sculptor. He spent most of his life in Florence, working mainly in marble, stone and stucco and providing models for goldsmiths. He was apprenticed to Gherardo Silvani (1579-1675) from 1614 to 1618 and then worked with the sculptor Agostino Bugiardini (d. 1623), whose unfinished works in the church of Santa Felicità, Florence, Novelli completed.

During the early 1620s Novelli was employed on Giulio Parigi's renovations of the Palazzo Pitti and Poggio Imperiale, and his earliest surviving works are stuccos of children in the Sala della Stufa (1626-27; Florence, Pitti). His finest statues include Legislation (1635-38; Florence, Pitti, grotto), Christ the Redeemer (1640; Florence, San Marco), the St Simon and St Andrew (c. 1640-44; Florence, SS Michele e Gaetano, Del Rosso Chapel), allegorical figures of Martyrdom and Glory (?after 1640; Florence, SS Annunziata, Pucci Chapel), and St Mary Magdalene (1649; Stockholm, Nationalmuseum). For Cardinal Giovanni Carlo de' Medici (whom he accompanied to Rome in 1644-45), Novelli designed a sculpture garden (1640s-1652; Florence, Orti Oricellari), of which only a colossal brick and stucco fountain figure of Polyphemus remains.

His last recorded commission was to provide models for reliefs for the silver ciborium surmounting the high altar of SS Annunziata (1655), executed by the goldsmiths Giovanbattista Merlini (d. 1658) and Marcantonio Merlini (d. 1688). Novelli had a flourishing practice in portrait busts, only a few of which can now be identified. He is also recorded as having supplied stage machinery for Medici festivals.

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