[Alari-Bonacolsi, Pier Jacopo di Antonio]
(b Mantua, c. 1460; d Gazzuolo, 1528).
Italian sculptor. An expert in goldsmith work, bronze sculpture and medals, he earned his nickname ‘Antico’ because of his ‘astonishing penetration of antiquity’ (Nesselrath). He achieved lasting fame through his small-scale re-creations (often also reinterpretations) of famous, but often fragmentary, statues of antiquity (e.g. the Apollo Belvedere, Rome, Vatican, Mus. Pio-Clementino, and the Spinario, Rome, Mus. Conserv.). Most of these bronze statuettes were made for the Gonzaga family, notably for Ludovico, Bishop of Mantua, and for Isabella d’Este, wife of Francesco II Gonzaga, 4th Marchese of Mantua. Antico also restored ancient marble statues and acted as an adviser to collectors.
A birth date of 1460 has been calculated on the basis of Antico’s earliest recorded commission (1479), and he is presumed to have been born in Mantua because his father, a butcher, owned a house there and he himself was granted the privilege of owning a stall in the meat market by Federico I Gonzaga, 3rd Marchese of Mantua. A training as a goldsmith is inferred from the fact that he began as a medallist in relief and in intaglio. In addition, he is documented (see below) as the maker of a pair of silver gilt vases and later demonstrated great skill at casting and chasing bronze statuettes, and at gilding and inlaying them with silver. His restoration of antique marble statues also implies an expertise in working that material, but nothing is known of how he acquired this skill....