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Maffeo Olivieri

Brescian, 1484 - after 1534

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Olivieri, a native of Brescia, was a bronze sculptor who made a pair of candlesticks now in Saint Mark's, Venice, for the Bishop Altobello Averoldo in 1527, the year after his appointment as apostolic legate to Venice. The candlesticks are signed MAPHEVS OLIVERIVS BRIXIANVS FACIEBAT, and their decorations are the only source available for recreating the artist's work. A group of figure bronzes related to the figures on the candlesticks has been attributed to Maffeo.[1]

A group of medals, uniform in style, also has been given to Maffeo.[2] The medals are finely finished, and the portraits are conceived with a touch of grandiloquence, especially in the large medal of Bishop Averoldo himself. Olivieri's effigies are inspired by the work of Fra Antonio da Brescia, especially the uncomfortable handling of the truncations of the portraits. The finish is finer, more the handling of a goldsmith; and the reverse compositions have an odd amount of empty space in them. The group includes four dated medals, of 1522 and 15233,[3] and eight undated medals.

[1] Bode, Wilhelm von (The Italian Bronze Statuettes of the Renaissance, 1907-1912, trans. from German by William Grétor, rev. ed. by James David Draper, New York, 1980: 79-80) made this attribution.

[2] First attributed by Max Rosenheim, in Catalogue of the Winter Exhibition, exh. cat., Royal Academy, Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 1910-1911: 100.

[3] A medal of Marcantonio Contarini (George Francis Hill, A Corpus of the Italian Medals of the Renaissance before Cellini, 2 vols., London, 1930: no. 484) is dated 1530 but is not firmly accepted as part of the Olivieri group.

[This is the artist's biography published in the NGA systematic catalogue of Renaissance medals.]

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