[il Cieco da Gambassi]
(b Gambassi, 1603; d Rome c. 1664).
Italian sculptor. The son of a glassmaker, he studied under the sculptor Pietro Tacca in Florence. While in the service of Carlo I Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, he was trapped in Mantua during the Austrian siege of 1630 and somehow he was blinded. According to Filippo Baldinucci, a contemporary and acquaintance of Gonnelli’s, his blindness was due to the hardships endured during the siege, not to any accident. Deprived of his livelihood, Gonnelli returned home and spent several unproductive years there. According to Baldinucci, his first completed work was a clay bust of Carlo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, begun from life ten years earlier. In time he regained his confidence and began to accept commissions.
Gonnelli’s surviving works include reliefs of the Nativity (Casole, S Maria Assunta) and the Pietà (Borgo di Colle, Santa Croce and S Bernardino all’Osservanza) and a statue of St Stephen (Florence, S Stefano), which was mentioned by Baldinucci. Because of his blindness, Gonnelli’s works were made of malleable materials such as wax and clay and were often covered with a monochrome varnish rather than painted, as was more typical of the 17th century. He is considered to be one of the last of the school of Giovanni della Robbia and to represent the provincial Italian Baroque....