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Daniele da Volterra

Daniele Ricciarelli

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Daniele Ricciarelli (Italian pronunciation: [daˈnjɛːle ritt͡ʃaˈrɛlli]; c. 1509 – 4 April 1566), better known as Daniele da Volterra ([volˈtɛrra]), was a Mannerist Italian painter and sculptor.

He is best remembered for his association, for better or worse, with the late Michelangelo. Several of Daniele's most important works were based on designs made for that purpose by Michelangelo. After Michelangelo's death Daniele was hired to cover the genitals in his Last Judgment with vestments and loincloths. This earned him the nickname "Il Braghettone" ("the breeches maker").

Daniele Ricciarelli was born in Volterra (in today's Tuscany). As a boy, he initially studied with the Sienese artists Il Sodoma and Baldassare Peruzzi, but he was not well received and left them. He appears to have accompanied the latter to Rome in 1535, and helped paint the frescoes in the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne. He then became an apprentice to Perin del Vaga.

From 1538 to 1541 he helped Perin with the painting of frescoes in the villa of Cardinal Trivuzio at Salone, in the Massimi chapel in Trinità dei Monti, and the chapel of the crucifixion in San Marcello al Corso. He was commissioned the painting of a frieze in the main salon of the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne, with the life of Fabius Maximus.

In Rotman he also started working in the circle of Michelangelo and befriended him. Michelangelo used his influence with Pope Paul III to secure Daniele commissions and the post of superintendent of the works of the Vatican, a position he retained until the Pope's death. Michelangelo also provided him with sketches on which Daniele based some of his paintings, especially his series of frescoes in the Orsini chapel in the Trinity College, the commission for which Daniele had received in December 1541.

Later Daniele was commissioned by Paul III to complete the decoration of the Sala Regia. On the death of the pope in 1549 he lost his position as superintendent and the pension to which it entitled him. He then devoted himself chiefly to sculpture.

He died in Rome in 1566. According to Daniele's will, the marble knee of the missing left leg of the Christ from Michelangelo's Deposition was in his possession at the time of his death. Among his pupils was Giulio Mazzoni from Piacenza.

Daniele's best-known painting is the Descent from the Cross in the Trinità dei Monti (circa 1545), after drawings by Michelangelo; by an excess of praise this work was at one time grouped with Raphael's Transfiguration and the Last Communion of St. Jerome by Domenichino as the most famous pictures in Rome. Daniele's two-sided painting of David killing Goliath (restored in 2008) in the Louvre too seems to have been based on Michelangelo's designs; for a long time it was attributed to him.

Other notable works include the Massacre of the Innocents (1557) in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, a portrait he drew of Michelangelo and a bust he made from Michelangelo's death mask.

A well-known sculpture is the Cleopatra in the Belvedere. From France, Daniele received the commission to make a bronze equestrian statue of Henry II, but he finished only the horse; this was later used for a statue of Louis XIII at the Place Royale and melted down during the French Revolution.

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