Benedetto da Maiano
Benedetto da Maiano, (born
1442, Maiano, near Fiesole [Italy]—died May 24, 1497, Florence),
early Renaissance sculptor, whose work is characterized by its
decorative elegance and realistic detail.
He was greatly influenced by
the Florentine sculptor Antonio Rossellino. His earliest
surviving work is the shrine of S. Savino (1468–72) in the
Faenza cathedral. Between 1470 and 1475 he was engaged on the
altar of Sta. Fina in the Collegiata at S. Gimignano, in a
chapel designed by his elder brother Giuliano (1468) and
decorated with frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio. The connection
between Benedetto and Ghirlandaio is reflected in the careful
realism of the five narrative reliefs in Benedetto’s
masterpiece, the pulpit in Sta. Croce in Florence (1472–75). A
bust of Pietro Mellini (1474), by whom the pulpit was
commissioned, reveals the same accumulation of naturalistic
detail and interest in physiognomics as is found in the
portraits of Ghirlandaio.
Between 1480 and 1483 Benedetto
sculpted a lavabo and lunettes of the Evangelists for the
Basilica of the Holy House in Loreto. Later, Benedetto was
employed on two major works for the church of Monteoliveto (S.
Anna dei Lombardi) in Naples: the tomb of Mary of Aragon (d.
1470), begun by Rossellino, and an altarpiece of the
Annunciation (1489). At roughly the same time, he was employed
by the Florentine banker Filippo Strozzi, of whom he made a
marble bust (from a terra-cotta model that some consider
superior) and whose tomb in Sta. Maria Novella, Florence, he
completed after 1491.
Benedetto’s work depends for
its effect less on invention and originality than on unfailing
taste and an exceptionally high level of technical skill. The
naturalism of his male portrait busts is in marked contrast to
his delicate, idealized busts of women. But both types show his
virtuosity in the handling of highly polished stone to achieve a
jewel-like play of light on surfaces.
Benedetto da Maiano.