Baccio Bandinelli - Self-Portrait, about 1545

Baccio Bandinelli (Gaiole, Chianti, 1488 - 1560, Florence)

Self Portrait, about 1545

Oil on panel , 142.5 x 113.5 cm (56 1/8 x 44 11/16 in.)


Bandinelli made his career serving the Medici family. With their expulsion from the city in 1527, Bandinelli too fled the city. After the Medici were restored to power, Bandinelli was commissioned to carve the marble group Hercules and Caucus (Piazza della Signoria, Florence). This self-portrait proclaims Bandinelli’s status as Florence’s official sculptor: he proudly holds a preparatory drawing for the Hercules and Caucus that secured his reputation. Around his neck is a gold chain with a shell — emblem of the Imperial Order of Santiago — which he received from Emperor Charles V.

Bandinelli and his work were often disparaged by critics, including Benvenuto Cellini and Michelangelo. Ironically, this portrait was purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner as a portrait of Michelangelo, and it was placed next to Cellini’s bust of Bindo Altoviti. The pairing of works was originally a reminder of the close friendship among Cellini, Altoviti, and Michelangelo. Now, the juxtaposition is redolent of a bitter Renaissance rivalry.

Source: Alan Chong, "Self-Portrait," in Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 85.