Enea Vico (Italian, 15231567)
Engraving; 12 1/16 X 17 1/4 in. (30.6 x 43.8 cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1917 (17.50.16–35)
Baccio Bandinelli (14931560), an ambitious Florentine sculptor and life-long rival of Michelangelo, commissioned this engraving from the printmaker Enea Vico (15231567) to celebrate his achievements and pretensions as a teacher and man of learning. Vico conceived the artist's workshop not as it must have looked but rather as a gentlemanly room peopled with industrious assistants in fashionable dress. Bandinelli himself appears at the extreme right in a garment adorned with a badge of knighthood, a sign of the rank he had recently received from Charles V.
By equipping the studio with books and antiquities, Vico presents the making of art as an intellectual enterprise, and by naming the studio an "academy," he associates it with Plato's famous school. The foreground is strewn with classical statuary and human bones appropriate for anatomical study. Brilliant lamplight and flickering firelight cast evocative shadows and illuminate the figures bent over their work. Some of their poses and groupings are reminiscent of Raphael's famous fresco The School of Athens, an analogy that further exalts the character of Bandinelli's enterprise.