At the Bargello Baccio Bandinelli takes his revenge against Michelangelo’s supporters


The first Baccio Bandinelli monographic exhibition – at the Bargello, Florence, until 13 July – allows us to rediscover an artist much admired in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but rather neglected by critics over the past two centuries, until today. Something strange, considering that, when alive, the sculptor was held in high esteem. Even Vasari, who was his enemy, devoted to him one the most extensive chapters in his “Lives”, praising in the end the genius of Bandinelli.


Moreover, his main patrons were two popes who belonged to the House of Medici – Leo X and Clement VII – and then the Duke Cosimo I: that should be enough to prove it’s capability, and effectively Bandinelli obtained, in Florence and beyond, the most challenging artistic enterprise of the first half of the century.


The initial and most important part of the show takes place in the Hall of Michelangelo, because all the works exhibited there have a relationship with Bandinelli: those of his masters, such as Michelangelo and Rustici; those of his contemporaries, such as Jacopo Sansovino and Cellini; those of his students, like Vincenzo De Rossi and Bartolomeo Ammannati; and those of his successor to the grand-ducal court: the Giambologna.


Nowadays, the setting in the room of Michelangelo is very significant. As some historians recently noted, in fact, is most likely that the cult of Michelangelo – then as now – is to explain the strong criticism of the “rival” Bandinelli. Thus, this show seems to be indeed a sort of revenge against the sculptor of the Medici Chapels.

September 22, 2014