World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Pompeo Leoni

Article Id: WHEBN0012044442
Reproduction Date:

Title: Pompeo Leoni  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Tourism in Spain, El Escorial, Convent of Las Descalzas Reales, 1533 in art, Madrid, Diego de Espinosa
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Pompeo Leoni

For the early 17th-century composer, see Leone Leoni (composer).

Leone Leoni (ca. 1509 – 22 July 1590) was an Italian sculptor of international outlook who travelled in Italy, Germany, Austria, France, the Spanish Netherlands and Spain. Leoni is regarded as the finest of the Cinquecento medallists.[1] He made his reputation in commissions he received from the Habsburg monarchs Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Philip II of Spain. His usual medium was bronze, although he also worked in marble and alabaster, carved gemstones and probably left some finished work in wax (in which many of his sculptures were modelled), as well as designing coins. He mainly produced portraits, and was repeatedly used by the Spanish, and also the Austrian, Habsburgs.


His family origins were at Arezzo,[2] though he was probably born at Menaggio near Lake Como, and his early training, to judge from the finish of his medals, was with a medallist or goldsmith, as Vasari says.[3] His earliest documentation finds him at Venice after 1533, with his wife and infant son, living under the protection of his Aretine compatriot (and possible kinsman), Pietro Aretino, who introduced him to the circle of Titian.[4] Taking advantage of his rival Benvenuto Cellini's being in prison at the time, he secured the role of designer for the Papal mint in Ferrara (1538–40) but was forced to withdraw under accusations of counterfeiting levelled by Pellegrino di Leuti, the jeweller of the Farnese Pope Paul III. Leoni then attacked Pellegrino and was condemned to lose his right hand, a sentence commuted after the intercession of powerful friends to slavery in the galleys, from which the entreaties of Andrea Doria released him after a year: Leoni produced three plaquettes and five medals of Andrea Doria as tokens of his gratitude.[5]

Once freed from the galleys, he "continued his alternation of criminal violence and exquisite workmanship"[6] moving to Milan to take up an Imperial appointment as master of the mint there, from 20 February 1542, at 150 ducats a year and the gift of a house in the Moroni district of Milan. Leoni's house in Milan, rebuilt 1565-67, was immediately called the Casa degli Omenoni for its heroically-scaled herm figures and bearded atlantes, a rarity in Milan at the time; it is indicative of his social success. The figures were carved by Antonio Abondio, doubtless following Leoni's models. Here he entertained Giorgio Vasari, who noted Leoni's large collection of plaster casts after the Antique, dominated by a stucco of the equestrian Marcus Aurelius from the Campidoglio in his courtyard.[7] His early protector in Milan, with whom he was on familiar terms, was the Imperial Governor, Ferrante Gonzaga. He lived in Milan thereafter, despite calls from his patrons to base himself, or at least present himself, at court, claiming that only there could he obtain the proper materials for his work - a notable contrast with Giambologna who was never allowed to leave Florence by his Grand Duke, as he bitterly complained, for fear the Habsburgs would ensnare him.[8] Among other later violent incidents, he was supposed to have attempted to murder Titian's son, who was staying with him in Milan.[9]

He had made an early reputation for portrait medallions, before his major commissions from Charles V, whose image for posterity lies in his portraits by Titian and Leoni. Leoni was the guest of Charles in Brussels in 1549, and the first of the portraits from life dates from this time; however, Leoni had made a portrait medallion of Charles in 1536. In Brussels the Emperor installed Leoni in an apartment below his own and delighted in his company, spending hours watching him at work, Vasari recalled. He knighted Leoni on 2 November 1549.

For the cathedral of Milan, Leone executed the five bronze figures for the monument of the condottiero Gian Giacomo Medici, brother of Pope Pius IV, in a marble architectural setting that Vasari attributed to a drawing by Michelangelo.

On a commission from Cardinal Granvelle (1516–86), Bishop of Arras, Archbishop of Malines, Viceroy of Naples, and the leading Habsburg minister, Leone cast life-sized half-figures in richly framed ovals, of Charles, Philip and the Cardinal, described by Vasari.[10] Granvelle would often correspond with Leoni, whom he may have known from his youth in as a student in Padua, about Habsburg commissions (which usually overran their promised delivery dates).

A marble portrait of Giovan Battista Castaldo, at the Church of San Bartolomeo, Nocera Inferiore — a commission mentioned by Vasari who thought it was bronze and did not know to which monastery it had been sent — was included in the exhibition Tiziano e il ritratto di corte, Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, 2006.[11]

Leoni's commissions for royal portraiture in Spain were an extension of his Habsburg patronage. On his return from Spain, where he executed the series of royal portraits, he brought a purse of 2000 scudi, according to Vasari. He pioneered what became a common Baroque format for a portrait bust; mounted on a pedestal, and truncated at mid-chest, or the bottom of the stomach (often defined by an armoured breast-plate), sweeping up at the sides to just below the shoulders. He also made life-size full-length portrait bronzes, like that of Charles V, which were not intended as funerary effigies, as nearly all previous examples had been.

Leoni was assisted in the monumental bronzes destined for the Escorial by his son Pompeo Leoni (c.1533–1608), who continued the large bronze-casting foundry after his father's death, in a style that is not securely separated from that of his father. Among the assistants to Pompeo was Adriaen de Vries. Pompeo assembled the drawings and notes of Leonardo da Vinci that constitute the Codex Atlanticus in Milan.

Leoni's name remained among the few recognizable landmarks in 16th century sculpture and consequently attracted many attributions during the nineteenth century.[12]

George Sand's Leone Leoni is not based on the sculptor's career.

Some representative attributed works

  • Medals including Charles V,[13] Ferdinand I, Philip II, Giorgio Vasari, Michelangelo Buonarroti,[14] Andrea Doria, and Ippolita Gonzaga.
  • Charles V Dominating Fury, 1550-53 (Prado);[15]
  • Standing portrait of Isabella of Portugal (Prado)
  • Walters Art Museum)
  • Portrait of Philip II (1554), exhibited in Milan for several months (Philip was Duke of Milan), before being sent to Spain;
  • Bust of Alfonso d'Avalos, marchese del Vasto, bronze (Morgan Library, New York);
  • Five bronze figures in the monument to Gian Giacomo Medici di Marignano, 1560-63 (Milan Cathedral), portrait of Gian Giacomo with Peace and Martial Virtue; above are Providence and Fame; this was Leoni's first venture at an architectural setting, with a design that Vasari said had been provided by Michelangelo.
  • Triumph of Ferrante Gonzaga over Envy, 1564, commissioned by his son Cesare Gonzaga to commemorate Ferrante's governorship of Milan and noted by Vasari (Piazza Rome, Guastalla);
  • Kneeling figures of Charles V, Philip II and their families, for the church at the Escorial;
  • Bust of Charles V (Prado);
  • Bust of Philip II, alabaster (Prado); another in marble in the Metropolitan [16]
  • Bust of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy as a boy, bronze, 1572 (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
  • Busts of Charles V, Philip II and the Duke of Alva, noted by Vasari, the first two usually Windsor Castle;[17]
  • Half-figures in ovals of Charles V, Philip II and Cardinal Granvelle, noted by Vasari.
  • Carved gemstone miniatures of Charles V and Philip II (double portrait),[18] Isabella of Portugal, Charles' empress,[19] in the Metropolitan, where there is also an enamelled and jewelled gold pendant medallion of Charles V.




External links

  • Life by Vasari, in English

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.