Italian painter, b. at Volterra, 1509; d. in Rome, 1566. Ricciarelli was called Volterra from the place of his birth. As a boy, he entered the studios of Bazzi (Il Sodoma) and of Baldassare Peruzzi at Siena, but he was not well received and left for Rome, where he found his earliest employment. He formed a friendship with Michelangelo, who assisted whim with commissions, and with ideas and suggestions, especially for his series of paintings in one of the chapels of the Trinita dei Monti. By an excess of praise, his greatest picture, the "Descent from the Cross", was at one time grouped with the "Transfiguration" of Raphael and the "Last Communion" of Domenichino, as the most famous pictures in Rome. His principal work was the "Murder of the Innocents", which he painted for the Church of St. Peter at Volterra now in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Volterra was commissioned by Paul III to complete the decoration of the Sala Regia. On the death of the pope (1549) he lost his position as superintendent of the works of the Vatican and the pension to which it entitled him. He then devoted himself chiefly to sculpture. Commissioned by Paul IV to supply draperies to some of the nude figures in the magnificent "Last Judgment" by Michelangelo, he thus obtained the opprobrious nickname "Breeches Maker" or "Il Bragghetone". His "Victory of David over Goliath" now in the Louvre, is so good that for years it was attributed to Michelangelo. His work is distinguished by beauty of colouring, clearness, excellent composition, vigorous truth, and curiously strange oppositions of light and shade. Where he approaches closely to Michelangelo, he is an artist of great importance; where he partakes of the sweetness of Sodoma, he becomes full of mannerisms, and possesses a certain exaggerated prettiness. A recent author has wisely said: "He exaggerates Michelangelo's peculiarities, treads on the dangerous heights of sublimity, and, not possessing his master's calm manner, is apt to slip down." His position in present-day criticism is very different to what was given to him a generation ago, and more nearly approaches to a truthful view of his art.
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