Andrea del Verrocchio

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Equestrian portrait of Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice, bronze, 1493

Andrea del Verrocchio , actually Andrea di Michele Cioni (* 1435 in Florence , † October 7, 1488 in Venice ) was a sculptor and painter, one of the most influential artists in the transition from the early to the High Renaissance .


Verrocchio was the son of the brick maker Michele di Francesco Cioni. His siblings were Tommaso, who was 8 years his junior, a younger boy who died early and three other sisters. The father died in the second half of the 1450s and Verrocchio lived with his stepmother in the Borgo of San Ambrogio in Florence. Little is known about the early years.

According to a 17th century source, he learned from the goldsmith Giuliano da Verrocchio, whose name he took, and not from the famous Ghiberti and Michelozzo . He is also said to have received training as a sculptor . In the middle of the 1460s he began to rise as a sculptor, with the active support of Piero de 'Medici and his son Lorenzo il Magnifico . At the same time he seems to have occupied himself more intensively with painting; however, it is uncertain whether or where he has learned. There was speculation about Alesso Baldovinetti or Fra Filippo Lippi . In 1472 he joined the St. Luke Brotherhood of Painters. Verrocchio became curator of the Medici family's collection of antiquities in Florence. As a restorer , he had the opportunity to study ancient statues in detail and thus lay the foundations for his own works.

For more than two decades he headed a productive, universally oriented workshop in which, in addition to sculptures and paintings, handicrafts such as costumes and equipment for festivities were made. It was also a well-attended training center for young artists of the High Renaissance, including Sandro Botticelli , Lorenzo di Credi , Leonardo da Vinci (taught from about 1470 to 1477), and Perugino .

Verrocchio did not get married. For a long time he supported his sister Margarita, whose children lived temporarily in his house.



David ( Bargello , Florence)
Andrea del Verrocchio: Maria with child , Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Verrocchio was especially important as a sculptor. He was the leading Florentine sculptor of his time. The original composition of the tomb for Piero and Giovanni di Medici , completed in 1472, is impressive. Before 1476 he created a bronze figure of David , expressive with a living ideal of beauty. With the unfinished grave relief of Cardinal Forteguerri , Verrocchio anticipates the theatrical effects of baroque sculpture. A terracotta relief of the Virgin Mary dates from 1478 (now in the Bargello in Florence).

One of his most impressive works is the bronze group Christ and Thomas in Orsanmichele , which combines technical perfection with a feel for composition and emotionality.

In 1483 he was commissioned by the Republic of Venice to create an equestrian statue in memory of the mercenary leader Condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni , which was only cast from the finished clay model after his death and placed in front of San Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. The tense equestrian statue is enough to evoke the idea of ​​an entire armed force pushing after the commander. The Colleoni influenced the development of equestrian statues up to the 19th century.

His portrait busts , which combine naturalism and idealization, were inspired by the Medici collection of antiquities.

Verrocchio's sculptures are characterized by a sense of reality, by the targeted use of light and shadow effects and mutual penetration of figure and space and thus gave decisive impulses for the (Florentine) style of the High Renaissance. His putto with dolphin shows the spiral pose for the first time, which has no preferred viewing direction. Verrocchio released figures from their attachment to a view from one point of view, which opened the way to Mannerism and Baroque in sculpture .


Baptism of Christ , around 1475, Uffizi Gallery , Florence

His painting activity is documented from 1469 and must have been carried out beforehand, at least before the Lippi workshop in Prato was closed . As early as 1472, when his 20-year-old assistant Leonardo da Vinci joined the Brotherhood of St. Luke, the effect of his teaching activities was visible in the early works of Domenico Ghirlandaios and Francesco Botticini . Hardly any of the paintings ascribed to him can be assigned with certainty and the dating is uncertain. The painting Tobias and the Angel (1470–1480, National Gallery , London ) is attributed to his workshop with possible participation by Leonardo da Vinci. Around 1475 he completed the baptism of Christ ( Uffizi , Florence), in which the participation of the young Leonardo da Vinci is unmistakable. At that time, his studio exceeded all other Florentine workshops in scope and importance. Many images of the Madonna, which are associated with Verrocchio, date from this period. One of the few paintings attributed to him is Maria with the child (around 1470, Gemäldegalerie , Berlin ). In the 1470s he made the Pistoiese Altar as the last painting.

As a painter, Verrocchio was more of a stimulating teacher than an innovator. However, he was probably one of the first to use aerial perspective in depicting landscapes. For a participation in the cycle of the seven virtues (originally for the Tribunale della Mercanzia , today in the Uffizi ) he applied with a drawing of the faith in vain.


Web links

Commons : Andrea del Verrocchio  - Collection of Images


  1. a b c Metropolitan Museum of Art
  2. Enciclopedie online at
  3. ANDREA di Michele, ditto il Verrocchio ., Dictionnaire Biografico degli Italiani - Vol 3 (1961); RKDartists
  4. a b c Encyclopaedia Britannica
  5. National Gallery of Art
  6. ^ Dario A. Covi: Andrea del Verrocchio: Life and work . Leo S. Olschki , Florence 2005, ISBN 978-88-222-5420-7 , p. 173 (English).
  7. ^ Alison Wright: The Pollaiuolo Brothers . Yale University Press , New Haven / London 2005, ISBN 0-300-10625-4 , pp. 13, 230 (English).