Andrea del Verrocchio

Andrea del Verrocchio was an Italian painter, sculptor, and goldsmith who was master of an important workshop in Florence. He became known by his nickname "Verrocchio" which in Italian means "true eye" a tribute given to him for his artistic achievement. Few paintings are attributed to him with certainty, but a number of important painters were trained at his workshop. His greatest importance was as a sculptor and his last work, the equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice, is universally accepted as a masterpiece.

Verrocchio was born in Florence in or about 1435. His father worked as a tile and brick maker and, later, as a tax collector. Verrocchio never married, and had to provide financial support for some members of his family. He was at first apprenticed to a goldsmith.

Little is known about his life. His main works are dated in his last twenty years and his advancement owed much to the patronage of Lorenzo de'Medici and his son Piero. His workshop was in Florence where he was a member of the Guild of St Luke. Several great artists passed through his workshop as apprentices. As well as Leonardo da Vinci and Lorenzo di Credi these included Domenico Ghirlandaio, Francesco Botticini, and Pietro Perugino. Despite the importance of Verrocchio's workshop in the training of younger painters, very few paintings are universally recognised as his own work and there are many problems of attribution. Their early works can be hard to distinguish from works by Verrocchio.

Vercocchio is known for having produced some sculptures too, between 1465 and 1467 he executed the funerary monument to Cosimo de' Medici and in 1472 he completed the monument to Piero and Giovanni de' Medici in the Old Sacristy. In 1467 the Tribunale della Mercanzia, commissioned from Verrocchio a bronze group portraying Christ and St. Thomas for the centre tabernacle. He therefore had the problem of placing two statues in a tabernacle originally intended for one. But he solved the problem, the work was placed in position in 1483 and was acclaimed and recognised as a masterpiece.

A bronze statue of David was commissioned by Piero de'Medici, today considered a masterpiece of Verrocchio's early career. Verrocchio's David is a young lad, modestly clad, contrasting with Donatello 's provocative David. At the end of his life he opened a new workshop in Venice where he was working on the statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, leaving the Florentine workshop in charge of Lorenzo di Credi. He died in Venice in 1488.

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