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Daniele da Volterra
Daniel Ricciarelli.jpg
Born c. 1509
Died 4 April 1566(1566-04-04) (aged 56–57)
Nationality Italian
Known for Painting
Movement Mannerist
Daniele da Volterra, Descent from the Cross (c. 1545), after its restoration in 2004; Trinità dei Monti, Rome.

Daniele Ricciarelli (Italian: [daˈnjɛːle rittʃaˈrɛlli]; c. 1509 – 4 April 1566), better known as Daniele da Volterra (/vlˈtɛrə/, Italian: [daˈnjɛːle da (v)volˈtɛrra]), was a Mannerist Italian painter and sculptor.

He is best remembered for his association with the late Michelangelo. Several of Daniele's most important works were based on designs made for that purpose by Michelangelo. ..... This earned him the nickname Il Braghettone ("the breeches maker").


Daniele da Volterra 001
Daniele da Volterra, The Prophet Elias (circa 1550-1560); in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Daniele Ricciarelli was born in Volterra (in present-day Tuscany). As a boy, he initially studied with the Sienese artists Il Sodoma and Baldassare Peruzzi, but he was not well received and left them. He appears to have accompanied the latter to Rome in 1535, and helped paint the frescoes in the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne. He then became an apprentice to Perino del Vaga.

From 1538 to 1541 he helped Perino with the painting of frescoes in the villa of Cardinal Trivuzio at Salone, in the Massimi chapel in Trinità dei Monti, and the chapel of the crucifixion in San Marcello al Corso. He was commissioned the painting of a frieze in the main salon of the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne, with the life of Fabius Maximus.

In Rome he also started working in the circle of Michelangelo and befriended him. Michelangelo used his influence with Pope Paul III to secure Daniele commissions and the post of superintendent of the works of the Vatican, a position he retained until the Pope's death. Michelangelo also provided him with sketches on which Daniele based some of his paintings, especially his series of frescoes in the Orsini chapel in the Trinity College, the commission for which Daniele had received in December 1541.

Later Daniele was commissioned by Paul III to complete the decoration of the Sala Regia. On the death of the pope in 1549 he lost his position as superintendent and the pension to which it entitled him. He then devoted himself chiefly to sculpture.

He died in Rome in 1566. According to Daniele's will, the marble knee of the missing left leg of the Christ from Michelangelo's Deposition was in his possession at the time of his death. Among his pupils was Giulio Mazzoni from Piacenza. Leonardo Ricciarelli was his nephew.


Parione - Piazza dei Massimi e palazzo di Pirro - 1010591
The façade of the Palazzo di Pirro (nowadays part of the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne) was decorated by Daniele with biblical scenes.

Daniele's best-known painting is the Descent from the Cross in the Trinità dei Monti (circa 1545), after drawings by Michelangelo; by an excess of praise this work was at one time grouped with Raphael's Transfiguration and the Last Communion of St. Jerome by Domenichino as the most famous pictures in Rome. Daniele's two-sided painting of David killing Goliath (restored in 2008) in the Louvre too seems to have been based on Michelangelo's designs; for a long time it was attributed to him.

Other notable works include the Massacre of the Innocents (1557) in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, a portrait he drew of Michelangelo and a bust he made from Michelangelo's death mask.

A well-known sculpture is the Cleopatra in the Belvedere. From France, Daniele received the commission to make a bronze equestrian statue of Henry II, but he finished only the horse; this was later used for a statue of Louis XIII at the Place Royale and melted down during the French Revolution.


Michelango Portrait by Volterra
Daniele da Volterra, portrait of Michelangelo; Teylers Museum, Haarlem.

The loincloths in Michelangelo's Last Judgment

Michelangelo, giudizio universale, dettagli 24 san biagio e santa caterina
Michelangelo, detail of The Last Judgment (1534-1541). St. Blaise, holding the iron combs of his martyrdom, and the body of St. Catherine of Alexandria, who is holding a breaking wheel, were chiseled away and repainted by Daniele da Volterra in 1565.

..... It earned Daniele the nickname "Il Braghettone" ("the breeches-maker").

He also chiseled away a part of the fresco and repainted the larger part of Saint Catherine and the entire figure of Saint Blaise behind her. .....

The loincloths and draperies in the lower half of the fresco, however, were not painted by Daniele. His work on the Last Judgment was interrupted at the end of 1565 by the death of Pope Pius IV, after which the scaffolding he used had to be removed quickly because the chapel was needed for the election of a new pope.


His pupils included painter Michele Alberti.


  • Daniele Ricciarelli is a distant ancestor of Christian Orlandi (Italian actor and director) on the part of paternal grandmother.



  • Fabrizio Mancinelli, "The Painting of the Last Judgment: History, Technique and Restoration". In Loren Partridge, Michelangelo : The Last Judgment – A Glorious Restoration. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 2000. ISBN: 0-8109-8190-4.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWilliamson, George Charles (1913). "Daniele da Volterra". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. 

See also

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