22/08/15 Aggiornato il:

Daniele da Volterra | Mannerist style painter and sculptor



Daniele da Volterra - Presentation of the Virgin
Daniele Ricciarelli da Volterra (1509-1566) was born in Volterra, a town in Tuscany, the painter and sculpture became known as Daniele da Volterra. He was a mannerist artist best remembered for his work in connection to Michelangelo (1475-1564). Before befriending Michelangelo, Volterra studied in Siena with Giovanna Antonio Bazzi, called Il Sodoma (1477-1549) and Baldassare Peruzzi (1481-1537), and then with Piero Buonaccorsi, called Perin del Vaga (1501-1547). During this time he helped to complete works in the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne in Rome, as well as in the Trinitá dei Monti and the San Marcello al Corso.
Volterra’s commission for the Orsini Chapel in the Trinitá dei Monti, were frescos he did based on drawings by Michelangelo.



With this is perhaps his best known work in painting, the piece, Descent from the Cross, which gained him much praise. Another work he based on Michelangelo’s drawings, Victory of David over Goliath, a two-sided painting, was long attributed to Michelangelo fully. Though, over time with the discovery that these works were painted by Volterra, he regained a more respected place in history. A much needed recovery at that, as the artist is infamously known as Il Braghettone, which means the breeches-maker. This name cursed Volterra’s reputation for having the task of painting over the nudity in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco, The Last Judgment. The Vatican had banned nudity from religious art and commissioned Volterra to alter the masterpiece. Although the cover-up was cut short in 1565, the nickname has preceded Volterra ever since.
Bust of Michelangelo in the National Museum of Florence


Bust of Michelangelo in the National Museum of Florence
Bust of Michelangelo in the National Museum of Florence


Much of Volterra’s work is still respected greatly, especially in new light of his paintings of Michelangelo’s drawings. Of his original painted works is a piece, Massacre of the Innocents (Murder of the Innocents or Slaughter of the Innocents), which he completed for the Church of Saint Peter in the town of Volterra and now hangs in the Uffizi Gallery. He also painted a portrait of Michelangelo and religious works such as Moses on Mount Sinai and The Prophet Elias, among others.
His notable work in sculpture includes Cleopatra and a Bronze bust of Michelangelo, as well as a bronze portrait of Michelangelo’s death mask. Some of the praise of his painted works appears in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, saying, “His work is distinguished by beauty of colouring, clearness, excellent composition, vigorous truth and curiously strange oppositions of light and shade…he exaggerates Michelangelo’s peculiarities, treads on the dangerous heights of sublimity, and not possessing the master’s calm manner, is apt to slip down”. | © Uffizi Gallery, Italy

Daniele da Volterra -David and Goliath at the Louvre
Daniele da Volterra -David and Goliath at the Louvre
Daniele da Volterra -David and Goliath at the Louvre
Daniele da Volterra -David and Goliath at the Louvre
Daniele da Volterra -David and Goliath at the Louvre







Massacre of the Innocents 
Massacre of the Innocents 










Daniele da Volterra - Unfinished portrait of Michelangelo ca. 1544, The Metropolitan Museum of Art






Massacre of the Innocents 


© Catholic Encyclopedia -
Daniele Ricciarelli Italian painter, b. at Volterra, 1509; d. in Rome, 1566. Ricciarelli was called Volterra from the place of his birth. As a boy, he entered the studios of Bazzi (Il Sodoma) and of Baldassare Peruzzi at Siena, but he was not well received and left for Rome, where he found his earliest employment. He formed a friendship with Michelangelo, who assisted whim with commissions, and with ideas and suggestions, especially for his series of paintings in one of the chapels of the Trinità dei Monti. By an excess of praise, his greatest picture, the "Descent from the Cross", was at one time grouped with the "Transfiguration" of Raphael" and the "Last Communion" of Domenichino, as the most famous pictures in Rome. His principal work was the "Murder of the Innocents", which he painted for the Church of St. Peter at Volterra now in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
Volterra was commissioned by Paul III to complete the decoration of the Sala Regia. On the death of the pope (1549) he lost his position as superintendent of the works of the Vatican and the pension to which it entitled him. He then devoted himself chiefly to sculpture. Commissioned by Paul IV to supply draperies to some of the nude figures in the magnificent "Last Judgment" by Michelangelo, he thus obtained the opprobrious nickname "Breeches Maker" or "Il Bragghetone". His "Victory of David over Goliath" now in the Louvre, is so good that for years it was attributed to Michelangelo. His work is distinguished by beauty of colouring, clearness, excellent composition, vigorous truth, and curiously strange oppositions of light and shade. Where he approaches closely to Michelangelo, he is an artist of great importance; where he partakes of the sweetness of Sodoma, he becomes full of mannerisms, and possesses a certain exaggerated prettiness. A recent author has wisely said: "He exaggerates Michelangelo's peculiarities, treads on the dangerous heights of sublimity, and, not possessing his master's calm manner, is apt to slip down". His position in present-day criticism is very different to what was given to him a generation ago, and more nearly approaches to a truthful view of his art. | © Catholic Encyclopedia 

Daniele da Volterra -David and Goliath at the Louvre



Daniele da Volterra -David and Goliath at the Louvre














DANIELE Ricciarelli, detto Daniele da Volterra. - Pittore e scultore. Nacque circa il 1509; morì a Roma nel 1566. Scolaro del Sodoma poi di B. Peruzzi, recatosi assai giovane a Roma fu tolto come aiuto da Pierin del Vaga; indi divenne seguace di Michelangelo, il più coscienzioso e profondo se non il più immaginoso e pronto.
Ciò, se lo preservò dalla faciloneria invadente, gl'impedì di produrre molti lavori, poiché non mai contento vi penava dietro anni. Le sue opere quindi sono rare, ma mirabili per equilibrio di composizione, nettezza di esecuzione, conoscenza anatomica, sebbene la sua tecnica pittorica lisci e gonfi alquanto le figure togliendo loro vitalità.
La prima opera di Daniele da Volterra, la Giustizia nel Museo di Volterra, è molto prossima al Sodoma. A Roma, in S. Marcello, terminò l'opera di Pierin del Vaga nella cappella del Crocefisso; quindi tra l'altro dipinse bellissimi fregi nei palazzi Massimo e Farnese.
Tra il 1541-1546 nella Trinità dei Monti frescò la cappella Orsini con storie della Croce; non ne rimane che la Deposizione la quale per armonia di composizione, nobiltà di atteggiamenti ed efficacia di espressioni fu considerata uno dei capolavori dell'arte, ma oggi è quasi una rovina. Per la cappella della Rovere, dirimpetto a quella, fece intorno all'altare un'Assunta, opera faticosa e oggi molto guasta, lasciando che gli aiuti eseguissero la maggior parte delle altre storie, tra le quali la Strage degli Innocenti, che replica in grande la tavoletta degli Uffizî da lui firmata.
Paolo IV gli commise di rivestire di panni sottili i nudi di Michelangelo nel Giudizio Universale, onde fu soprannominato "Braghettone". Dopo la morte di Pierin del Vaga, nel 1547, Daniele ebbe l'incarico di decorare la Sala Regia in Vaticano e a lui si debbono i partimenti in stucco con fregi e putti elegantissimi, ma a causa della sua lentezza e irresoluzione le pitture furono poi commesse ad altri. Si diede anche alla scultura, ma sempre per i soliti difetti poco condusse a termine e poco rimane oltre il magnifico busto bronzeo del Buonarroti. Il suo grandioso cavallo di bronzo per il monumento di Enrico II, dopo aver servito a quello di Luigi XIII, fu distrutto durante la Rivoluzione. | di Carlo Gamba © Treccani, Enciclopedia Italiana
Bust of Michelangelo in the National Museum of Florence