Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1519-1540 - Hampton Court (East Molesey)

Sculptor Benedetto Grazzini, known as Benedetto da Rovezzano, was born in 1474 in Canapale, Pistoia. He trained in the circle of Giuliano da Sangallo and then entered the workshop of Andrea Sansovino. He adopted the name Rovezzano from the quarter of Florence in which he lived. A contemporary of Michelangelo, he worked in marble and bronze. In 1508 he enrolled in the Stonemasons’ Guild in Florence and made friezes for the portal of the Sala dei Duecento in the Palazzo Vecchio. Between 1508 and 1509 he worked on the chasing of Michelangelo’s (lost) bronze David. With the Medici return to power, the artist was discarded on account of his Republican sympathies.

He moved to England in 1519 where he stayed to around 1540 (and was known as Rovesanne or Rovesham). His patron was Cardinal Thomas Wolsey who, in 1514, had leased Hampton Court. In 1524 the latter commissioned him to design a magnificent tomb in the Renaissance style. Its sheer scale and use of rich materials such as black touchstone, white marble, and gilded bronze, reflected Wolsey’s wealth. After his downfall, the tomb parts were seized by Henry VIII to be used for his own monument. Benedetto left London in poor health to return to Italy. He died in Vallombrosa in about 1554.

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