Andrea del Verrocchio – The Greatest Teacher in Art History
Perhaps you did not know, but one, almost miraculous thing, links a few renowned Renaissance painters and sculptors, perhaps the greatest artists of all time. Namely, Leonardo da Vinci, Boticelli, Pietro Perugino, Lorenzo di Credi had one, the same one – a teacher.
His name is Andrea del Verrocchio and he was remembered as a teacher who’s students disciples became masters of Renaissance. You will be even more amazed when I tell you then among his disciples are Michelangelo and Raphael.
Born in Florence, Andrea di Michele di Francesco de ‘Cioni (1435 – 1488), is known by the nickname Verrocchio, obtained by combining the word vero and occhio, which means “right eye”. Verrocchio was also an important Renaissance artist, but his work actually remained in the shadow of many more successful students.
Verrocchio was the son of a mason who later became a tax collector in his life. In his youth, he served with several masters, and according to the legend, Verrocchio was a student at Donatello. He founded a workshop in which he worked and painted in several techniques, but mostly watercolor. For his students and disciples, he mostly accepted the lost sons and bastards from respectable families.
At that time, Florence, one of the most powerful free cities in Europe, was the home to various master and art workshops. Such diversity and colorfulness, the core of the Italian Renaissance, was financially supported by the famous Medici family, which celebrated its centuries-old power across Europe with the names of the artists it supported.
The most famous of Verrocchio’s works are Madonna with seated child and Tobias and Angel, as well as Equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, which he performed at the very end of his life, after moving to Venice.
While painting the famous work of the The Baptism of Christ in 1475, he was assisted by his young disciple Leonardo da Vinci. The painting size of 177 × 151 centimeters is now in the gallery Uffizi in Florence.
Following the apocryphal anecdote that was later recorded by the Vazars, young Leonardo and Verrocchio worked together on the picture until the teacher saw Leonardo paint the angel. Having understood that the student had overcome him, Verrocchio threw a brush and never painted again. Modern research in which the application of color was scanned shows that Leonardo probably also depicted other parts of the painting, including Christ and elements of relief.