(b. ca. 1386, Firenze, d. 1466, Firenze)

Bust of Niccolò da Uzzano

Polychrome terracotta, height 46 cm
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

Following the restoration of 1985, the polychrome terracotta Bust of Niccolò da Uzzano, originally from Palazzo Capponi, has won back its place in the history of Florentine Renaissance sculpture which Carlo Carlieri had assigned to it in his Florentine Guide of 1745. This distinguished public figure, who led the party which opposed the Medici, and represented several times in fresco (in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, in Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, in the Church of Sant'Egidio), on medals and subsequently in the commemorative alcoves of the Uffizi Gallery, could not be ignored by the young Donatello, who reproduces the man in polychrome terracotta, in line with the classical model of antiquity. Probably executed in the 1430s (Niccolò died in 1433), it reveals the physical and moral individuality of the man, and has been described as the oldest half bust portrait of the Florentine Renaissance.

There is a considerable debate surrounding the attribution of this bust to Donatello. Other possible sculptors include Desiderio da Settignano and Piero Torrigiani. Whatever the case, this is a work of high quality.

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