Benedetto da Maiano

Benedetto da Maiano
born 1442, Majano, Republic of Venice
died May 24, 1497, Florence

Italian sculptor active in Florence.

He was influenced by Bernardo Rossellino; his marble tomb designs are variants on Rossellino's patterns. His masterpiece is a pulpit in Santa Croce in Florence (completed 1485) consisting of five narrative reliefs. He often worked with his brothers, Giovanni and Giuliano, in the design and execution of architectural features such as pilasters, capitals, friezes, and niches. He was also a master of naturalistic portrait busts.

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▪ Italian sculptor
born 1442, Maiano, near Fiesole [Italy]
died May 24, 1497, Florence
 early Renaissance sculptor, whose work is characterized by its decorative elegance and realistic detail.

      He was greatly influenced by the Florentine sculptor Antonio Rossellino (Rossellino, Antonio). His earliest surviving work is the shrine of S. Savino (1468–72) in the Faenza cathedral. Between 1470 and 1475 he was engaged on the altar of Sta. Fina in the Collegiata at S. Gimignano, in a chapel designed by his elder brother Giuliano (1468) and decorated with frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio (Ghirlandaio, Domenico). The connection between Benedetto and Ghirlandaio is reflected in the careful realism of the five narrative reliefs in Benedetto's masterpiece, the pulpit in Sta. Croce in Florence (1472–75). A bust of Pietro Mellini (1474), by whom the pulpit was commissioned, reveals the same accumulation of naturalistic detail and interest in physiognomics as is found in the portraits of Ghirlandaio.

      Between 1480 and 1483 Benedetto sculpted a lavabo and lunettes of the Evangelists for the Basilica of the Holy House in Loreto. Later, Benedetto was employed on two major works for the church of Monteoliveto (S. Anna dei Lombardi) in Naples: the tomb of Mary of Aragon (d. 1470), begun by Rossellino, and an altarpiece of the Annunciation (1489). At roughly the same time, he was employed by the Florentine banker Filippo Strozzi, of whom he made a marble bust (from a terra-cotta model that some consider superior) and whose tomb in Sta. Maria Novella, Florence, he completed after 1491.

      Benedetto's work depends for its effect less on invention and originality than on unfailing taste and an exceptionally high level of technical skill. The naturalism of his male portrait busts is in marked contrast to his delicate, idealized busts of women. But both types show his virtuosity in the handling of highly polished stone to achieve a jewel-like play of light on surfaces.

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Universalium. 2010.

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