Andrea Sansovino

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Andrea Sansovino

Italian sculptor

Born 1467 - Died 1529

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SANSOVINO, ANDREA CONTUCCI DEL MONTE (1460-1529), Florentine sculptor, was the son of a shepherd called Niccolo di Domenico Contucci, and was born at Monte Sansavino near Arezzo, whence he took his name, which is usually softened to Sansovino. He was a pupil of Antonio Pollaiuolo [c.1432-1498], and at first worked in the purer style of 15th-century Florence. Hence his early works are by far the best, such as the terra-cotta altarpiece in Santa Chiara at Monte Sansavino, and the marble reliefs of the Annunciation, the Coronation of the Virgin, a Pietà, the Last Supper, and various statuettes in the Corbinelli chapel of S. Spirito at Florence, all executed between the years 1488 and 1492. From 1491 to 1500 Andrea worked in Portugal for the king, and some pieces of sculpture by him still exist in the monastic church of Coimbra. (See Raczinski, Les Arts en Portugal, Paris, 5846, p. 344.) These early reliefs show strongly the influence of Donatello [c.1386-1466]. The beginning of a more pagan style is shown in the statues of St John baptizing Christ over the east door of the Florentine baptistery. This group was, however, finished by the weaker hand of Vincenzo Danti [1530-1576]. In 1502 he executed the marble font at Volterra, with good reliefs of the Four Virtues and the Baptism of Christ. In 1505 Sansovino was invited to Rome by Julius II. [1443-1513] to make the monuments of Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza [1455-1505] and Cardinal Girolamo della Rovere for the retro-choir of S. Maria del Popolo. The architectural parts of these monuments and their sculptured foliage are extremely graceful and executed with the most minute delicacy, but the recumbent effigies show the beginning of a serious decline in taste. These tombs became models which for many years were copied by most later sculptors with increasing exaggerations of their defects. In 1512, while still in Rome, Sansovino executed a very beautiful group of the Madonna and Child with St Anne, now over one of the side altars in the church of S. Agostino. From 1553 to 1528 he was at Loreto, where he cased the outside of the Santa Casa in white marble, covered with reliefs and statuettes in niches between engaged columns; a small part of this sculpture was the work of Andrea, but the greater part was executed by [Raffaello da] Montelupo [1504-c.1566], [Niccolo] Tribolo [c.1500-1550] and others of his assistants and pupils. Though the general effect is rich and magnificent, the individual pieces of sculpture are both dull and feeble. The earlier reliefs, those by Sansovino himself, are the best.

Source: Entry on the artist in the 1911 Edition Encyclopedia.

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