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Santi Buglioni

Florence, 1494 - 1576

Santi Buglioni’s esteemed mastery of this type of artefact is most eloquently documented by the “ten vitrified earthen heads” that he executed in 1542, commissioned by the very sophisticated Duchess of Florence Eleonora di Toledo, consort of Cosimo I de’ Medici, as a gift to her father, the powerful Viceroy of Naples don Pedro de Toledo, probably destined to adorn the loggias of the elegant palace built in Pozzuoli between 1539 and 1541.

Santi Buglioni - Flavio Gianassi

Santi di Michele Viviani, known as Buglioni (Florence 1494 - 1576) was the nephew of Benedetto di Giovanni Buglioni (Florence 1459/60 - 1521), a resourceful sculptor whose style was influence by that of Verrocchio, established himself on the artistic scene in Florence and central Italy, between Rome,  Perugia and Bolsena, around 1485 with his prolific production of glazed terracotta sculptures, similar in technical and typological aspects to those made by Andrea della Robbia - from whom, according to Vasari (1568), he would have stolen the “secret” of this art – even if characterised by a greater formal simplicity and an open eclecticism, which was appreciated by cultured and refined patrons such as Pope Innocent VIII and Cardinal Giovanni dei Medici, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and future Pope Leo X. An art later inherited by Santi Buglioni and interpreted by him with more challenging and original, updated solutions in line with the taste of early Florentine Mannerism, as can be seen in the famous, glorious frieze depicting the Seven Works of Mercy in the portico of the Ospedale del Ceppo in Pistoia (1526-1528). Santi Buglioni is an artist, who also distinguished himself for his work in the Medici workshops often in collaboration with Tribolo, who shortly before his death would be remembered by Vasari (1568) as the “only one” still capable of “working sculptures of this kind”.

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Bearded virile effigy “all’antica”: Ideal portrait of the poet Homer


Glazed terracotta, 40.5 x 37.5 x 16 cm



Probably commissioned by Eleonora di Toledo in 1542 for Pedro di Toledo, Viceroy of Naples, for the Palace of Pozzuoli

Thus, in the varied production of the Buglioni family, directed by a more sophisticated clientele, clypeated busts all'antica similar to those made in large numbers by the Della Robbia family from the 1460s onwards, such as, for example, the eighteen medallions with effigies of emperors and illustrious men made by Andrea in 1492 for the Aragonese villa of Poggioreale in Naples, of which only one very damaged example survives in the Capodimonte Museum, the sixty-six portraits of characters from the Old and New Testament, Fathers of the Church and Founding Saints of the main religious orders modelled in 1522-23 by his son Giovanni della Robbia for the Certosa del Galluzzo, or those of profane subject and marked antiquarian taste that by the brothers Girolamo and Luca “the Younger”, active at the court of François I of France, decorated the fabulous Château de Madrid in the Bois de Boulogne (1527-1564), the Château de Sansac (1529) and the Château d'Assier (1526-1535), one of which is now in the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

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