SANSOVINO, Jacopo
(b. 1486, Firenze, d. 1570, Venezia)

Bacchus

1512
Marble, height 146 cm
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

Sansovino returned to Florence c. 1510 and almost immediately assumed a position of prominence. Possibly through Baccio d'Agnolo, he gained the two commissions for marble statuary that confirmed his reputation as a serious rival to Michelangelo, the Bacchus (Bargello, Florence) and St James the Greater for the cathedral.

The Bacchus, probably Sansovino's most celebrated work, is one of the best-known Renaissance sculptures. Finished by 1512, it was designed for the garden of Giovanni Bartolini's suburban palace at Gualfonda, where it stood on a plinth carved by Benedetto da Rovezzano. Although Sansovino may have been asked to copy a Classical sculpture, no single convincing prototype has ever been found. His creation seems to have been a synthesis of several Classical works, and it captures the spirit of antiquity far better than any previous modern work. It displays a dazzling virtuosity in its extended left arm and sinuous, serpentine movement. Although damaged by fire in 1762, the Bacchus still retains the power to entrance spectators.