29 cm x 21 cm (11 7/16 in. x 8 1/4 in.)
Nicolo della Casa
(active Lorraine, 1543 – 1548)
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Teaching Collection of Marvin Vexler, '48, 1999
Since at least the mid 15th century, the leading artists in Italy had been concerned with the intellectual status of their profession and their own social standing. By the mid 16th century, these concerns were also manifest in the frequency of engraved portraits of artists, parallel to those of the religious reformers in the North. The subject of this portrait, Bandinelli was the most famous Florentine sculptor of the period after Michelangelo. Terribly ambitious, and intensely jealous of his compatriot, Bandinelli represents an extreme case of explicit self-promotion through prints: there are at least five engraved portraits of him, all dating from the 1540s. This is one of two by della Casa, presenting the sculptor in noble costume in his studio, surrounded by his own statuettes. In this very fine impression, the plastic description of surface and resulting weight reinforce the characterization of Bandinelli’s art and persona. The impression is further distinguished by an offset, an accidental transfer of damp ink from another print, on the verso. In a marvelous twist of fate, this offset comes from an impression of Giulio Bonasone’s portrait of Bandinelli’s arch-rival, Michelengelo.