Andrea Sansovino, original name Andrea Contucci (born c. 1467,
Monte San Savino, Republic of Florence—died 1529, Monte San
Savino), Italian architect and sculptor whose works reflect the
transition from early to High Renaissance.
His earliest great work was the
marble Altar of the Sacrament in S. Spirito, Florence, executed
for the Corbinelli family between 1485 and 1490; the fineness of
detail, high emotional pitch, and lively narrative quality seen
in the altar are typical of his early style. After several years
in Portugal, according to Vasari, the 16th-century biographer of
Italian artists, Sansovino was again in Florence in 1502, when
he began the marble group of the “Baptism of Christ,” now above
the central door of the baptistery. The calm and dignified
poses, the strong but controlled emotion, and the generalized
beauty of the bodies mark this as one of the first works in the
style of the High Renaissance.
In 1505 Sansovino went to Rome
and was commissioned by Pope Julius II to execute the almost
identical tombs of cardinals Ascanio Sforza and Girolamo Basso
della Rovere in Sta. Maria del Popolo. These tombs, completed by
1509, were the most influential of all Sansovino’s innovations,
with their adaptation of the triumphal-arch form and the novel
sleeping attitude of the deceased cardinals. Sansovino’s last
great charge was to supervise both the decoration of the Santa
Casa (Holy House of the Virgin) and the construction of several
buildings at Loreto. His marble relief of the “Annunciation” on
the shrine there is a composition of great richness that still
has some of the narrative charm of his very early work.
The influence of Sansovino’s
suave and graceful style acted as a counterbalance to
Michelangelo’s titanic and muscular sculpture throughout the
16th century. His most important follower was Jacopo Tatti,
called Sansovino after his master.