Florentine 15th or 16th Century, probably after a model by Andrea del Verrocchio and Orsino Benintendi|
Florentine 15th Century (sculptor)
Florentine 16th Century (sculptor)
Andrea del Verrocchio (artist after)
Florentine, 1435 - 1488
Orsino Benintendi (artist after)
Florentine, 1440 - c. 1498
Lorenzo de' Medici, 1478/1521
overall: 65.8 x 59.1 x 32.7 cm (25 7/8 x 23 1/4 x 12 7/8 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Object 8 of 8
Lorenzo de' Medici, head of the family that dominated Florence, survived a 1478 assassination plot that took the life of his younger brother Giuliano. To commemorate these events and offer public thanksgiving for his salvation, wax statues of Lorenzo were placed in several churches—one version dressed in the very garments Lorenzo was wearing on the day he was attacked. Andrea del Verrocchio, a favorite Medici sculptor, supervised the production of the statues by a wax specialist, Orsino Benintendi. This terracotta bust may perpetuate one of them in a more permanent material.
This portrait expresses power as much as individual personality. Although the costume is that of an ordinary Florentine citizen, the forms of this portrait bust are monumental: massive, simple, and over-life-size. Lorenzo's overhanging brows and grimly set mouth suggest a man who has survived the worst attack his enemies could mount and warns them not to try again. A cleaning of the sculpture completed in 2006 removed a dull brown coating of dirt and overpaint, revealing its original naturalistic details: Lorenzo's cheeks and lips have rosy pink touches, his eyebrows are dark, and there are delicate traces of beard stubble painted around his mouth. The bust has thus regained the immediacy that must have greeted its Renaissance audience.
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