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Giancristoforo Romano

Mantuan, c. 1465 - 1512

Romano, Giovanni Cristoforo; Gian Cristoforo Romano

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Giancristoforo was the son of the sculptor Isaia da Pisa. He was trained in Rome, and the first mention of him occurs in that city, in 1484. He probably also worked in Ferrara and Urbino before going to Milan in 1491, the year in which his patron, Beatrice d'Este, married the de facto ruler of Milan, Lodovico il Moro. A portrait bust of Beatrice of the same year is firmly attributed to Giancristoforo. His principal surviving work is the tomb of Giangaleazzo Visconti in the Certosa at Pavia, completed in 1497.

Following Beatrice's death in 1497, Giancristoforo moved to Mantua, where he was employed by Isabella d'Este, sister of Beatrice and wife of the marquess of Mantua, Francesco II Gonzaga. Giancristoforo stayed in Mantua until 1505, making visits to Venice and Cremona between 1502 and 1505. He went to Rome in 1505, where he produced monuments and a medal of Pope Julius II, and he worked in Naples in 1507, where he produced a medal of Isabella of Aragon. He returned to work in Rome between 1507 and 1509 and finally went to Loreto as architect for the Sanctuary of the Santa Casa. He died in Loreto on 31 May 1512. In addition to his activity in sculpture, medals, and architecture, Giancristoforo was a humanist courtier, an accomplished singer, and an advisor to Isabella d'Este on her collection of antiquities. Only three documented medals are generally accepted as his work.[1]

[1] The medals are those of Isabella d'Este (NGA 1957.14.669.a,b), Isabella of Aragon (NGA 1957.14.670.a,b), and Pope Julius II (George Francis Hill, A Corpus of the Italian Medals of the Renaissance before Cellini, 2 vols., London, 1930, no. 222). Roberto Weiss, "The Medals of Pope Julius II (1503-1513)," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Intitutes 28 (1965): 172 n. 86, reattributed some medals to Serbaldi from Giancristoforo.

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

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