(b. 1493, Firenze, d. 1560, Firenze)

St Peter

Marble, over life-size
Duomo, Florence

All hope that Michelangelo would execute 12 more than life-size statues of Apostles for the Duomo was abandoned in 1508, when he began to work on the Sistine ceiling. For three years the scheme was in abeyance, and then, in the first half of 1511, it was decided to allot to statues separately to such sculptors as were available. In June the first commission, for the St James, was awarded to Jacopo Sansovino. In the second half of 1513, after a vain attempt to induce Andrea Sansovino to undertake two statues, a figure of St John the Evangelist was commissioned from Benedetto da Rovezzano, who completed it in twelve months, and about the same time a St Andrew was commissioned from Andrea Ferrucci.

In 1514 Ferrucci was unsuccessfully invited to carve a second statue, a St Peter, and when he refused, this was entrusted, early in 1515, to a young and unproved protégé of Giuliano de'Medici, Baccio Bandinelli.

The coloured marble tabernacles in which the statues are shown were designed in 1563-65 by Ammanati. Thereafter four further figures were commissioned, two (St Philip, 1577, St James the Less, 1576) from Giovanni Bandini, and two (St Matthew, 1580, St Thomas, c. 1580) by Vincenzo de' Rossi.

Bandinelli's St Peter for the crossing of the Duomo was inspired by Donatello's statue of St Mark on Orsanmichele of a century earlier. Its boldly contrived design is smothered in inanimate detail.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.