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Charles Avery

(b Trent, April 1, 1470; d Padua, July 8, 1532).

Italian sculptor. He worked in terracotta and bronze, mostly on the small scale of statuettes, plaquettes and elegant domestic items such as inkstands and oil lamps. Usually regarded as the greatest exponent of this kind of work, he was a specialist in rendering themes of Classical mythology to the satisfaction of the erudite humanist professors of Padua University. His oeuvre is often neglected because of its small scale, but it constitutes one of the loftiest and most fascinating manifestations of the poetic paganism of the High Renaissance: the equivalent, and sometimes perhaps the inspiration, of the great Venetian mythological paintings of the period, by Giovanni Bellini, Cima, Giorgione and Titian. Riccio acted as an intermediary for the tradition of Donatello in bronze sculpture in Padua, a tradition that he learnt from his own master, Bartolomeo Bellano, and passed on to Sansovino family, §1 in Venice.

Riccio (‘curly head’) trained first in the workshop of his father, ...

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Giancarlo Gentilini

Italian family of sculptors and potters. They were active in Florence from the early 15th century and elsewhere in Italy and France well into the 16th. Family members were traditionally employed in the textile industry, and their name derives from rubia tinctorum, a red dye. (1) Luca della Robbia founded the family sculpture workshop in Florence and was regarded by contemporaries as a leading artistic innovator, comparable to Donatello and Masaccio. The influence of antique art and his characteristic liveliness and charm are evident in such works as the marble singing-gallery for Florence Cathedral. He is credited with the invention of the tin-glazed terracotta sculpture for which the family became well known. His nephew (2) Andrea della Robbia, who inherited the workshop, tended to use more complex compositions and polychrome glazing rather than the simple blue-and-white schemes favoured by his uncle.

Several of Andrea’s sons worked in the shop. Marco della Robbia (...

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Charles Avery

(b Florence, ?Nov 13, 1474; d Tours, 1554).

Italian sculptor and painter, active also in France. He was of noble birth, and his artistic activities were those of a dilettante. No formal apprenticeship is recorded: although Vasari called him a pupil of Andrea del Verrocchio, this can only have been indirectly, for Verrocchio died in Venice in 1488, when Rustici was 14. His later collaboration with Leonardo da Vinci does suggest a mutual familiarity with Verrocchio’s workshop, which continued to operate after the master’s death. Certainly, the well-informed Pomponius Gauricus, in De sculptura (Padua, 1504), named him as one of the principal sculptors of Tuscany, with Maiano da family, §2, Andrea Sansovino and Michelangelo. Rustici also studied the Medici sculpture collection in the garden at S Marco in Florence, where, as an aristocrat, he would have been particularly welcome.

Probably because his social position made him more independent than the average artist, few of Rustici’s works are documented, although many have been identified from descriptions by Vasari, corroborated by stylistic comparisons. The earliest is a tightly designed marble bust of ...