The Sculpture of Jacopo Sansovino


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Bruce Boucher

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Jacopo Sansovino was the leading sculptor and architect of sixteenth-century Venice. His position and abilities enabled him to reshape Venetian sculpture, and his influence remained dominant long after his death. This beautiful book by Bruce Boucher is the first study of Sansovino’s sculpture in over fifty years and the first ever to present a catalogue raisonne of his works.


Boucher begins by discussing Sansovino’s career chronologically and thematically. He describes how the sculptor was trained in his native Florence and in Rome, how he established himself as a serious rival to Michelangelo, and how the Sack of Rome in 1527 forced him to flee to Venice where he enjoyed a second, even more successful career. In Venice, says Boucher, Sansovino was taken up by a small band of influential patrons, became architect of the Doge’s chapel, and received important commissions from both the state and individuals. Boucher discusses in detail commissions such as the Loggetta and the colossal Mars and Neptune for the Doge’s Palace, critically assesses Sansovino’s artistic style, analyzes the relationship between Sansovino’s sculpture and sixteenth-century paintings, describes Sansovino’s workshop and the division of labor in his major commissions, and explores Sansovino’s influence during his life and after his death. The text and catalogue raisonne are complemented by an appendix of documents, some of which have never been published before, that add greatly to our knowledge of the sculptor in his social and artistic context. The resulting book is a superb visual and analytical record of the work and career of one of the greatest sculptors of the High Renaissance.

"Boucher's The Sculpture of Jacopo Sansovino plugs an art-historical gap, including copious black-and-white photographs as well as a pioneering catalogue raisonné, and triumphantly superseding the last monograph published in German nearly 60 years ago."—Hillary Spurling, Weekend Telegraph

"The first monograph on the High Renaissance architect and sculptor for half a century. The text by this leading scholar on the artist is supplemented by a catalogue raisonné and an appendix of documents."—Tim Ayers, The Art Newspaper

"Jacopo Sansovine may well be regarded as the most important sculptor in Italy in the first half of the sixteenth century after Michaelangelo, and the preparatory studies for this eagerly awaited monography have been extensive and difficult, as the author had to collect and reappraise the considerations of a good three generations of scholars on his subject. . . . Boucher has responded brilliantly to his self-imposed task. . . . A monumental work."—Manfred Leithe-Jasper, Art Newspaper

"Boucher examines in meticulous detail the history, influence, and art of this fine sculptor. . . . Crisp, clear illustrations and fine documentation make this a wonderful set."—Library Journal

"Boucher's monograph, the first full-scale treatment in English, covers Sansovino's entire sculptural career, with an emphasis on the long Venetian residency. . . . Material is finally at hand for a complete understanding of an artist whose prolific career has too long suffered from being placed in the shadow of Michelangelo. Recommended."—Choice

"Sansovino is not just a figure of historical importance; he was a generous, inspired, inspiring sculptor. Students of Venetian High Renaissance art will, rightly, be grateful for Boucher's elaborate and admirably documented monograph."—John Pope-Hennessy, Times Literary Supplement

"This beautiful book is the first study of the Sansovino's sculpture in over fifty years and the first ever to present a catalogue raisonné of his works."—Arte Incontro

"An up-to-date and exhaustive monograph [of Sansovino] was lacking. Bruce Boucher's full-length account . . . admirably fulfills the need. . . . A valuable account of the patrons for whom Sansovino worked. . . . [Boucher's] study of relevant documents has enabled him to illuminate some of the still obscure and often misunderstood ways in which a sculptor's workshop functioned in the sixteenth century."—Hugh Honour, New York Review of Books

"Bruce Boucher's two volumes constitute the first scholarly monograph on the sculptor since J. R. Weihrauch's book of 1935. . . . The author's aim has been to treat his subject as completely as possible and the result is a solidly researched, enlightening and clearly written piece of scholarship. . . . Boucher convincingly represents Sansovino as an astute and independent sculptor who operated comfortably and influentially within the overlapping and artisanal and patronal networks of Florence and Rome. . . . His monograph becomes less like the account of an individual, more like the study of a complicated institution: a constantly moving structure of interdependent units that share related histories. . . . Boucher has done his work well."—Anthony Hughes, Art History

"Meticulous in scholarship, convincing in critical judgement, and elegantly written, the book will be a fundamental source of reference not only for Sansovino, but also—especially with its final chapter on his school and legacy—on the entire history of Venetian sculpture in the sixteenth century."—Peter Humfrey, Italian Studies

"Bruce Boucher has examined all of Sansovino's sculptures, and assembled the results in an ambitious, detailed account. In scope and depth, it far surpasses earlier biographies of the sculptor, and it will be fundamental for all future work on the artist. . . . Boucher's book provides a valuable and stimulating life of the sculptor, for which scholars of renaissance art will be in the author's debt."—Andrew Butterfield, Burlington Magazine

Cowinner of the 1992 Salimbeni Prize given by the Fondazione Salimbeni per le Arti Figurative of Florence
ISBN: 9780300047592
Publication Date: November 27, 1991
440 b/w + 12 color illus.