Verrocchio / Andrea di Francesco di Cione, known as
- Florence, 1435 - Venice 1488
goldsmith, sculptor, painter
- Florence, Pistoia, Venice
- Biographical information:
Son of Michele di Francesco di Cione, Andrea learnt the goldsmith’s art from Antonio di Giovanni Dei between 1453 and 1456. In 1457 he went into partnership with Francesco di Luca Verrocchio, whose patronymic he adopted. In the same year, in his first tax return, he declared that he was a goldsmith but without work.
He soon turned to sculpture, probably working in the ambit of the Rossellino workshop. His earliest works reveal a marked affinity with these artists and an exquisite decorative taste, as demonstrated in the lavabo in the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo (circa 1465).
Gifted with an exceptional technical expertise and protected by the Medici, together with Pollaiolo he became one of the leading figures of Florentine art after the mid century. A multi-faceted and versatile artist, he was the typical artistic entrepreneur at the head of a flourishing workshop ready to take on the most varied commissions.
In 1466 he received the commission for the bronze group showing the Incredulity of St. Thomas, to be set in the tabernacle of the Mercanzia on the exterior of Orsanmichele, although the work was not finally completed until 1483. Prestigious commissions followed. In 1468 he received the first payment for the bronze candelabrum for the chapel in Palazzo della Signoria (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum) and was entrusted with the creation of the sphere in gilded bronze for the cupola of the Duomo, delivered and weighed in 1471. In 1476 he submitted a sketch for the Fonteguerri monument in the Duomo of Pistoia. This trial earned him the commission for the work (1478), although it was then left unfinished in the mid-eighties. For the silver altar of the Baptistery he created the relief showing the Beheading of John the Baptist, commissioned in 1477 and concluded in 1480 (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo).
For the Medici he executed the tomb of Cosimo il Vecchio (1465-67) and the funeral monument of Piero and Giovanni de’ Medici (1472), again in San Lorenzo; he also made the bronze David, donated to the Florentine Signoria in 1476 by Lorenzo and Giuliano di Piero, and the terracotta lunette showing the Resurrection of Christ originating from the Villa of Careggi (Museo del Bargello).
The prestige of Andrea’s workshop and his gifts as a skilled master are demonstrated by the pupils who frequented him: the most important artists of the following generation. Outstanding among them are the names of Lorenzo di Credi, Pietro Perugino, Leonardo da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli.
Although famous above all for the sculptures in bronze, Andrea also produced works in marble and terracotta, as well as paintings. He painted standards for the joust of Giuliano and Lorenzo de’ Medici, although the attribution of the pictorial works is often debated between him and his pupils. Among the few recognised paintings is the Baptism of Christ (Uffizi), where the hands of various assistants and pupils can be discerned, including that of Leonardo.
In 1479 Verrocchio was summoned to Venice by the Signoria of the Serenissima to execute the equestrian monument to Bartolomeo Colleoni to be set up in Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo. On 12 July 1481 Andrea presented a model for the monument, and between 1483 and 1485 he sojourned in Venice to execute the work.
Shortly before his death on 25 June 1488 he made a will and testament in which he asked the Venetian Signoria to leave to his heir Lorenzo di Credi the task of completing the Colleoni monument. Instead it was entrusted to Alessandro Leoni, who unveiled the work in 1491.
Lorenzo di Credi had the body of Verocchio transferred to Florence, where he was buried in the church of Sant’Ambrogio.
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