Sculpture Journal

Reputation, patronage and opportunism: Andrea Sansovino arrives in Rome

Sculpture Journal (2018), 27, (2), 177–192.

Abstract

This article draws together archival, visual and contextual evidence to demonstrate that Andrea Sansovino’s early recognition and success in Rome was not unexpected, but was the result of the reputation he had established in Florence and Portugal. As a result, he was able to access patronage networks controlling some of the papacy’s most prestigious commissions. The argument is supported by a previously unrecognized addition to Sansovino’s oeuvre, the tomb monument of Cardinal Ardicino della Porta (d. 1493). Leaving his work on the figure group for Florence Cathedral’s Baptistery unfinished, Sansovino was in Rome by 1505 having been summoned by Pope Julius II to work on Cardinal Ascanio Sforza’s tomb monument at Santa Maria del Popolo; the sculptor probably worked on the tomb of Ardicino della Porta around the same time. Parts of the della Porta monument were removed to Boville Ernica, to the south of Rome, in the first decade of the seventeenth century, while the effigy and inscription survive in the Vatican Grottoes, which is why it has been overlooked. More broadly, the case study illuminates the rich set of legal and cultural relationships that tomb monuments embody: they are much more complex than a simple transaction between a patron and an artist.

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Author details

Richardson, Carol M.