ROSSI, Vincenzo de'
(b. 1525, Fiesole, d. 1587, Firenze)


Italian sculptor. He began his career as an apprentice to Baccio Bandinelli, possibly in 1534. By 1546 he had completed his training and moved to Rome. In 1547 he received his first independent commission, from the society of artists known as the Pontificia Accademia dei Virtuosi al Pantheon, to execute the Young Christ with St Joseph for the chapel in the Pantheon. St Joseph, the society's patron saint, is twice life-size and rendered with almost excessive attention to detail, particularly in the decorative cape that falls over his shoulders. His toga is deeply undercut, exaggerating the effects of light hitting the form, and his face is similarly chiselled to accentuate the eyes and decorative plaits of hair and beard. These effects, as well as the extremely long torso of the saint and almost gargantuan left hand, suggest that de' Rossi was endeavouring to compensate for the viewing angle of the spectator. The figure of Christ is life-size and accordingly looks diminutive beside St Joseph. Nevertheless, the composition of the group is balanced in that St Joseph's stance and gesture and the inclination of his head are mirrored in the pose of his son. This practice and the adoption of a frontal viewpoint (derived from Bandinelli) is repeated in de' Rossi's subsequent figural groupings in progressively more sophisticated ways.

In 1560, Duke Cosimo I de' Medici commissioned from Vincenzo de' Rossi a cycle of twelve Labours of Hercules. This cycle was dedicated to the hero selected as a symbol of freedom and perseverance in victory by the Municipality of Florence first and the Medici later. According to the original project the cycle was meant to ornament a fountain, perhaps destined to the Boboli Gardens. Upon the sculptor's death, however, which followed that of his commissioner by thirteen years, only seven of the twelve Labours had been completed. Six of them is currently located in the Salone dei Cinquecento in the Palazzo Vecchio. These groups were placed here in 1592 at the behest of Grand Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici, the son of Cosimo I, on the occasion of the baptismal celebrations in honour of his first-born son.

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