During the Renaissance, busts of Saint John the Baptist as a boy were commonly displayed in Florentine homes. Saint John’s fine and innocent face and curly hair embody the ideal of youthful beauty at that time. Benedetto da Rovezzano made this bust in Florence when Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo were leading the artistic scene in town. When Michelangelo left for Rome in 1508 to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling, he asked Benedetto to finish his bronze David (now lost)—a testament to Benedetto’s ability. Benedetto da Rovezzano also worked for the royal courts of France and England and thus was instrumental in spreading the Renaissance style beyond Italy.
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