Baccio Baldini, Italian (1436 - 1487)

Baccio Baldini

Baccio Baldini (1436 - c. 1487) was an Italian engraver of the Renaissance, active in his native Florence.

Little is known of Baldini's life. The biographer Vasari noted that Baldini was a goldsmith who based all of his works on Sandro Botticelli and that Baldini was a pupil of Maso Finiguerra.

Engravings by Baldini were published in 1477 in a work by Antonio Bettini and also nineteen plates for a 1481 edition of Dante's Inferno. The following plates have been attributed to Baldini : Plates for the Monte Santo di Dio (1477). by Niccolo Lorenzo della Magna in 1431; Twenty-four of the Prophets; Twelve of the Sibyls; and a Theseus and Ariadne.

Baccio Baldini is not yet forgotten, and will not be, if he continually receives the support he has had in the last twenty years. In The Illustrated Bartsch, a series of volumes on the history of printmaking, he was treated to a good hundred-page catalog of his work, including many new attributions, and most recently, the major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Art and Love in Renaissance Italy” referred to many of his works in its catalog. In this exhibition, I intend not to glorify Baldini (although he deserves any amount of glory), but to awaken the art-historical populace to the wealth of knowledge in Florentine symbolism and printmaking which can be attained through the study of Baldini’s work, and, by narrowing the choice of pieces down to those containing fine examples of the artist’s love symbolism and allegories, I intend to show that such a prolific artist cannot be captured in his entirety in a single exhibition.

But, while Baldini has had many re-awakenings and triumphs in the art world, he has had his share of troubles. Possibly the greatest was the publication of the drawings and prints catalog British Museum in the 1970s, where all interest in Baldini as an individual interesting artist was shattered, by splitting the vast Baldini collection into parts and organizing them by subject and mixing them with the works of other artists in separate catalog sections.

However, one single reference to Baldini has saved his reputation from utter decay. In writing about Italian printmakers of the early renaissance, Giorgio Vasari mentions Baldini as a goldsmith who based all his works on Boticelli.(see page seven) As brief and uncomplimentary as it is, this quote is the greatest contemporary resource on Baldini. Since the 1500s, the artist has found his way online, in the improved British museum website, along with dozens of online images. He has even made his way into a brief “Wikipedia” entry. Therefore, with the support of the World Wide Web and modern culture, Baccio Baldini will hopefully survive another half-millennium.

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