13/09/15 Aggiornato il:

Lorenzo Bartolini | Neoclassical sculptor




Lorenzo Bartolini (7 January 1777 - 20 January 1850) has been recognised as one of the great sculptors of Europe. His style is quite different from the traditional Neo-Classical style of Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen, because it is not based on the antique or on standard Academic principles. He was a controversial and polemical artist. His fascinating life has all the drama of a novel by Stendhal. He was proud and independent; a rebel, revolutionary and republican. At Paris he became Napoleonist and remained so all his life. His views were always strong and he was inclined to quarrel, even with friends. Today there can be few connoisseurs who do not appreciate the beauty and quality of his works. | © Sotheby's



Lorenzo Bartolini infused his Neoclassicism with a strain of sentimental piety and naturalistic detail, while he drew inspiration from the sculpture of the Florentine Renaissance rather than the overpowering influence of Antonio Canova that circumscribed his Florentine contemporaries.
Bartolini was born in Savignano di Prato, near Prato, Tuscany.
After studying at the Florentine Academy of Fine Arts, honing his skills and reputation as a modeller in alabaster, he went in 1797 to Paris, where he studied painting under Frédéric Desmarais, and afterwards sculpture under François-Frédéric Lemot. The bas-relief Cleobis and Biton, with which he gained the second prize of the Academy in 1803, at once established his fame as a sculptor and gained for him a number of influential patrons. His bas-relief of the Battle of Austerlitz was among those executed for the column erected in Place Vendôme. He also executed many minor pieces for Vivant Denon, besides portrait busts of the opera composers Méhul and Cherubini.
His great patron, however, was Napoleon, for whom he executed a colossal bust, and who sent him, on the recommendations of his sister Elisa Baciocchi, to Accademia Carrara in Bergamo in 1807, to teach sculpture, in spite of local opposition. Here he remained as the quasi-official portrait sculptor to the Buonapartes till after the fall of Napoleon. In 1833, Bartolini was elected to the National Academy of Design as an Honorary member. He then took up his residence in Florence, where he resided till his death.


In Florence, his Bonapartist associations and his departures as an artist from the strict Canovan classicism being taught at the Academy limited his opportunities. His naturalistic and somewhat sentimental marble L'Ammostatore ("The Bird's-nest Stealer", 1820) took its inspiration from under-appreciated Quattrocento Florentine sculptors like Andrea Verrocchio. In his decade of impoverishment, supportive commissions came from foreigners; the funeral monument to Princess Sofia Zamoyski Czartoriski (died 1837) in Santa Croce, Florence's Westminster Abbey, is an anti-classical statement for naturalism.
Two other Bartolini monuments in Santa Croce can be compared with it; in the Capella Giugni is his monument to Carlotta Buonaparte (died 1839), but when the occasion required a more formal approach, as in the monument to Leone Battista Alberti, the result could be chilly. An outstanding commission came in 1830 from the sons of the Russian prince Nicola Demidoff, who had retired to Florence, to sculpt a monument, which is still to be seen in Piazza Demidoff, Florence. The commission's multiple figures took shape during Bartolini's last decades; it was completed by Bartolini's assistant Pasquale Romanelli.
His works are varied and include an immense number of portrait busts. The best are, perhaps, the group of Charity (1824), the Hercules and Lichas and Faith in God, commissioned by the widow of Giuseppe Poldi Pezzoli. His portrait statue of Macchiavelli took its place as his only commission among the long series of historical Florentine males provided for the empty exterior niches of the Uffizi. | © Chisholm, Hugh, ed. 1911. Encyclopædia Britannica, Cambridge University Press.





























































Lorenzo Bartolini è stato uno scultore Italiano, a cavallo fra il Sette e l'Ottocento, uno dei più importanti del periodo dopo Antonio Canova.
1777 - Nasce il 7 gennaio a Savignano di Prato da umile famiglia.
1795 - Si trasferisce a Volterra ed entra nel laboratorio di lavori in alabastro di Barthélemy Corneille, presso il quale copia i disegni di John Flaxman.
1799 - Arriva a Parigi, dove è accolto nell’atelier di Jacques-Louis David e stringe amicizia con Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres e Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret. Poco dopo i tre giovani, lasciato il comune maestro, si ritirano in un loro studio presso il convento delle Cappuccine in rue de la Paix.
1802 - Concorre con il rilievo Cleobi e Bitone al Prix de Rome per la scultura, dove si classifica solo al secondo posto.
1805 - Esegue il busto bronzeo di Napoleone per il Louvre e alcuni rilievi della Colonna di Austerlitz in Place Vendôme a Parigi.
1807 - Rientra in Italia come professore di scultura all’Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara, governata da Elisa Baciocchi, sorella di Napoleone, che lo chiama a dirigere la Banca Elisiana da lei fondata. L’istituzione, che mirava a fare di Carrara in un polo mondiale del marmo, erogava contributi alle imprese che gestivano le cave, finanziava borse di studio per gli allievi dell’Accademia e promuoveva la produzione di ritratti ufficiali di membri della famiglia Bonaparte.
1813 - La sommossa antifrancese a Carrara porta alla devastazione dello studio di Bartolini.
1814 - Si trasferisce a Firenze ed ha il suo primo studio in via della Scala. Si fa notare dalla clientela internazionale presente in città come ritrattista e autore di opere apprezzate per la loro naturalezza studiata dal vero e mediata dalla riscoperta del Quattrocento fiorentino.
1820-1824 - Condivide il nuovo studio in via delle Belle Donne con Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, invitato da lui a Firenze.
1829 ca. - Si trasferisce nel grande studio di Borgo San Frediano 70, oggi Studio Bartolini - Romanelli.
1831 - L’11 aprile sposa Maria Virginia Buoni, andando ad abitare in Borgo Pinti 87, dove nascono i figli Gerolamo Napoleone, Paola Napoleona, Giulia Rosa e Matilde Maria.
1839 - Viene nominato Professore della cattedra di Scultura all’Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze.
1840 - Rinnova la tradizionale didattica accademica imponendo come prassi lo studio da modelli viventi e in pose naturali. Suscita forti polemiche sul territorio nazionale la sua lezione del 4 maggio, quando invita un modello gobbo a posare davanti agli allievi. Lo scultore afferma così che “Tutta la natura è bella relativa al soggetto da trattarsi”.
1840-1850 - E’ il decennio delle grandi commissioni monumentali. Bartolini trasforma la tipologia del monumento funebre ed esplicita il suo impegno civico nel celebrare i grandi della Patria.
1848 - Viene nominato Senatore del Parlamento toscano.
1850 - Bartolini muore il 20 gennaio a Firenze e viene sepolto nella cappella di San Luca nella basilica della SS. Annunziata, nella stessa cripta in cui riposano le spoglie di Pontormo, Franciabigio e Benvenuto Cellini. Molte sue opere lasciate incompiute saranno terminate da Giovanni Dupré e Pasquale Romanelli. | © Galleria dell'Accademia, Firenze