Daniele da Volterra and Michelangelo’s bronze portraits

Daniele da Volterra | Michelangelo

Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze – allestimento mostra- foto Guido Cozzi


Daniele Ricciarelli, known as Daniele da Volterra (1509 – 1566), was a friend and pupil of Michelangelo Buonarroti and was present at the master’s death in his Roman home on 18 February 1564.
By virtue of this bond between the pupil and his master, Leonardo Buonarroti, Michelangelo’s nephew, commissioned Daniele da Volterra to produce two bronze portraits of his uncle immediately after the master’s death.

This request was joined by that of the antiquarian Diomede Leoni who asked for a third bronze bust of Michelangelo.
Daniele da Volterra died in 1566, however, and was unable to finish the three busts, of which copies actually exist, leaving many questions open as to their chronology, casting and provenance.

Daniele da Volterra and Michelangelo’s bronze portraits 

Daniele da Volterra | busti bronzo

Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze – allestimento mostra- foto Guido Cozzi

It has recently been possible to compare the nine existing busts bearing Michelangelo Buonarroti’s features, to review their data, documents and bibliography.
All the specimens present were subjected to an intensive campaign of non-invasive analysis, both classical of the materials and with sophisticated state-of-the-art instruments and innovative methodologies.

Scientific investigations never previously carried out on these works were conducted, such as geological analyses of the melting earth or nuclear analyses (XRF) to determine the nature and composition of the metal alloys.
Each bust was digitised and 3D printed in resin on a 1:1 scale, allowing key points to be mapped to establish correspondences and identify whether they all came from a single mould.

The research work that has been carried out is unique and, for the first time, has combined digital expertise with academic rigour in identifying the original works, named in the inventory of the house inhabited by Daniele da Volterra, and the ‘genealogy’ of the variants derived from them.

Daniele da Volterra | mostra Firenze

Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze – allestimento mostra- foto Guido Cozzi


The Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence is hosting the exhibition Michelangelo: the bronze effigy of Daniele da Volterra, curated by Cecilie Hollberg and organised with the sponsorship of Intesa Sanpaolo – with the Gallerie d’Italia museums and the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center.

For the first time, the nine bronze busts of Michelangelo, attributed to Daniele da Volterra, are exhibited in a single location.

Michelangelo: the bronze bust of Daniele da Volterra
15 February – 19 June 2022
Accademia Gallery, Florence

Together with the three works already kept in Florence at the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Museo Nazionale del Bargello and Casa Buonarroti, there will be important loans from various international and Italian museums such as: the Musée du Louvre and the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the Musei Capitolini in Rome, the Castello Sforzesco-Civiche Raccolte d’Arte Applicata in Milan and the Museo della Città “Luigi Tonini” in Rimini.

The idea for this exhibition,” says Cecilie Hollberg, Director of the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, “stems from the need to make a scientific contribution to the complex relationship between originals and derivations.  Michelangelo: the bronze effigy of Daniele da Volterra is a unique and unusual exhibition that aims to answer questions that are still open thanks to the use of highly technological and innovative tools.

Opening hours and tickets

Full price ticket12€
Reduced price ticket (for 18-25 year olds) 2€

The ticket includes a visit to both the exhibition and the Museum, where you can also admire Michelangelo’s David.
You can book your ticket now. Choose a date from the calendar.

The ticket office closes 30 minutes before closing time.

The high scientific value of the initiative is in line with the importance that the MIC-Ministry of Culture gives to scientific research carried out through technologically innovative tools and aims to involve leading experts, bringing them together, on Monday 21 February 2022, in a study day organised for this occasion.

The main purpose of the exhibition, which will remain open until 19 June 2022, is precisely to produce the first scientific catalogue of the bronze effigies attributed to Daniele da Volterra, published by Mandragora, which will come out after the study day, where the research carried out so far and the results of diagnostic investigations will converge, providing an indispensable tool for studies in this field. One of the expected results is to compile an accurate genealogy of the variants derived from Michelangelo’s busts, identifying as far as possible the provenance and characteristics of the various executions.

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