Antonio del Pollaiolo is famous for numerous paintings, sculptures and nude prints. He is also the author of the earliest surviving painting on the subject of ancient myths “Hercules and the Hydra”.
Biography of Antonio del Pollaiolo
Antonio del Pollaiolo (real name Benchi) was born in Florence around 1429-1433. More precise information about the artist’s date of birth has not survived. Antonio was the eldest son of an ordinary chicken merchant. It was thanks to the profession of his father that the artist and his younger brother acquired their famous nicknames Pollaiolo. From the Italian language, the word pollaio is translated as “chicken coop”.
Most historians believe that Antonio studied painting and jewelry in the studio of the artist Andrea del Castagno. There is another version, according to which the first mentor of Pollaiolo was Domenico Veneziano. But still, in the work of Antonio, the artistic influence of Castagno is more noticeable.Already i n the mid-1450s.
Pollaiolo created his own art workshop.
He first gained fame in Florence as a jeweler, and later became interested in painting, engraving and fresco paintings. Antonio’s studio quickly gained fame throughout Italy and for a long time competed with the studio of another prominent Florentine Renaissance artist Andrea del Verrocchio.
From the mid-70s of the 15th century, Pollaiolo completely switched to another type of visual art sculpture. As the main material for his work, he chose bronze, from which over twenty years he created a huge number of small compositions.
The famous Lorenzo il Magnifico was one of the main customers of the master’s sculptures and paintings. The almighty ruler of Florence patronized Antonio and generously paid for the work done.
In 1484 Pollaiolo moved to Rome, where he spent the rest of his life. Here, for 14 years, he devoted most of his time to work on two large orders for the Catholic throne tombs for two popes (Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII).
Antonio del Pollaiolo died on February 4, 1498. The exact cause of his death is unknown. In accordance with his personal will, the artist was buried with great honors in the capital of Italy in the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli.
The most famous works of Antonio del Pollaiolo
Among the most famous works of Antonio del Pollaiolo, you can find works of several types of fine art at once:
- The Reliquary Cross of San Giovanni (1459) is a master’s piece of jewelry, stunning in its scale and grandeur. This work of art was made to decorate the storage area for a particle of the Life-giving Cross in the Baptistery of the Florentine Church of Santa Maria del Fiore.
- The Battle of Ten Naked Men (1465) is the most famous surviving engraving by Pollaiolo. This work was admired by many great Renaissance painters, including Albrecht Dürer, Michelangelo and Perugino.
- Hercules and Antaeus (1475) is a bronze sculpture imbued with spectacular drama and depicting the fierce struggle of mythological heroes. The sculptor also came up with an original base for the composition in the form of three turtles.
- The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian (1475) is the master’s greatest painting masterpiece. The artist managed not only to perfectly reflect in the work the terrible picture of the death of the martyr, but also to convey the naturalness of the poses and movements of his murderers.