The late Renaissance sculptor Leone Leoni (1509-1590) came from modest beginnings, but died as a nobleman and knight. His remarkable leap in status from his humble birth to a stonemason's family, to his time as a galley slave, to living as a nobleman and courtier in Milan provide a specific case study of an artist's struggle and triumph over existing social structures that marginalized the Renaissance artist. Based on a wealth of discoveries in archival documents, correspondence, and contemporary literature, the author examines the strategies Leoni employed to achieve his high social position, such as the friendships he formed, the type of education he sought out, the artistic imagery he employed, and the aristocratic trappings he donned. Leoni's multiple roles (imperial sculptor, aristocrat, man of erudition, and criminal), the visual manifestations of these roles in his house, collection, and tomb, the form and meaning of the artistic commissions he undertook, and the particular successes he enjoyed are here situated within the complex political, social and economic contexts of northern Italy and the Spanish court in the sixteenth century.
'… an excellent, well-informed introduction to the art and life of one of the most original personalities of the sixteenth century… Di Dio’s book deserves praise as a reliable and well-rounded introduction to the subject. Her pages on Leoni’s relationship to Stoicism are masterly, and her volume will remain essential reading for all those interested in the relationship between artists and patrons, collecting and display and word and image in the early modern period.' Burlington Magazine
'Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio’s new book is a welcome addition to the limited existing bibliography on this important artist… The book is informed, enriched, and enlivened by the author’s extensive archival work, and Helmstutler Di Dio has skillfully woven the documentary references into her larger narrative.' Renaissance Quarterly
'Di Dio's volume is the first book-length publication in English devoted to an important if somewhat neglected Italian Renaissance sculptor, Leone Leoni… Di Dio supports her case for a renewed appreciation of Leoni in a vigorous manner, with an impressive array of rare or unpublished mateirals.' Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance
'Di Dio’s detailed and thorough research makes this an important work of reference, and lends insight into early modern attitudes regarding the conception and status of the artist.' Biography
'… concise and vivid narrative.' Kunst Chronik
Contents: Preface; From medallist to sculptor; Sir Leone; Rivals in art and crime; The Casa degli Omenoni and the construction of identity; Leoni's collection; Leoni's legacy; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
A forum for the critical inquiry of the visual arts in the early modern world, Visual Culture in Early Modernity promotes new models of inquiry and new narratives of early modern art and its history. We welcome proposals for both monographs and essay collections that consider the cultural production and reception of images and objects. The range of topics covered in this series includes, but is not limited to, painting, sculpture and architecture as well as material objects, such as domestic furnishings, religious and/or ritual accessories, costume, scientific/medical apparata, erotica, ephemera and printed matter. We seek innovative investigations of western and non-western visual culture produced between 1400 and 1800.