DANIELE da Volterra
(b. 1509, Volterra, d. 1566, Roma)

Bust of Michelangelo

Bronze, black patina, on black marble plinth, height 35 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Toward the end of his creative life, Daniele da Volterra turned his back on painting and began devoting his time to sculpture. After his death, numerous artworks were found in his house in Rome, in whichMichelangelo had once resided. Alongside drafts and proof casts for a bronze equestrian statue of Henry II of France, these included several, partly unfinished bronze bust-portraits of his deceased friend and master, Michelangelo. Daniele's estate inventory lists a total of six bronze busts of Michelangelo in varying degrees of completion and finish. Today, about a dozen busts - among the an undefined number of copies - are known, differing from one another in the style and quality of the surface treatment. This suggests that Daniele created several more busts that left his workshop when he was still alive. It is not clearly determined which versions came directly from Daniele's workshop.

Conflicting opinions are expressed in the literature on whether Daniele created the bust of his master before Michelangelo's death, or posthumously.It remains to be clarified if the portrait was created after a death-mask or from memory. The intended purpose of the bust is also unknown.It is likely, however, that it was created as a memorial object, possibly for Michelangelo's tomb in Santa Croce. The marble bust by the sculptor Battista Lorenzi that was finally installed there is of the same type as the bronze bust but looking in the other direction and does indeed appear to be based on a model by Daniele da Volterra.