Historical figure Massimiliano Soldani Benzi

Born in: 1656  - Died in: 1740
Son of Soldani, rich family Montevarchina, and Benzi, noble family of Figline Valdarno and magnates of the city of Florence, Massimiliano was born in Montevarchi and here was baptized July 15, 1656 in the church of St. Andrew Apostle in Cennano. The Soldani family, the paternal family, in addition to the noble palace in the main street of Montevarchi also owned the Petriolo farm in Galatrona, near Mercatale, where Massimiliano spent all his childhood and where from the beginning he demonstrated an early sculptural talent so much that , still a child, he enjoyed molding clay figurines that his father cooked. A Capuchin who used to go to the house, probably from the convent of Montevarchi, then taught him how to prepare the colors and how to enamel the terracotta.

A few years later, in 1678, he painted an Annunciation on canvas that convinced one of his uncles to direct him to the design school of Baldassarre Franceschini, known as Volterrano. It was entrusted to the care of Giuseppe Arrighi, the best student of Franceschini, and the choice was very apt if, after two years, Cosimo III in person wanted that Massimiliano perfected in Rome at the art school he established and directed by the painter Ciro Ferri and the sculptor Ercole Ferrata. He remained in Rome for four years where he gained great fame creating portraits in medal of famous people like Christina of Sweden, cardinals Azzolino, Chigi and Rospigliosi, not to mention Pope Innocent XI. But he also gave one to each of his masters.

The Grand Duke called him back to Florence in 1684 to use the Grand Ducal Mint, allowing him to have his own private laboratory inside the building. Shortly thereafter, however, he was "sent to Paris by his sovereign to refine his study of medals [and here] had the honor of making the portrait of Louis XIV in a medal of extraordinary magnitude". Many successes, when he returned to Florence in 1686, earned him the title of Mastro dei Coni and Keeper of the Mint, the two highest offices of the institute that he left to his pupil Lorenzo Maria Weber only in 1723.

In 1698 he married the daughter of the court painter Justus Sustermans, who had taken over from Palazzo Pitti in 1684 with the appointment as professor of the Academy of Drawing.

For his freelance work Soldani received in the private laboratory at the mint and, to manage the clients, he relied on two trusted agents: Lorenzo Magnolfi and Giovanni Giacomo Zamboni. In fact, Soldani, who did not have a shop but a real studio, received only by appointment that could only be obtained by resorting to Magnolfi or Zamboni, but they always put it on the difficult. This is because Soldani had an elitist conception of artistic production where the acquisition of the works was not only a matter of great wealth and culture but also of having the right contacts: in short, a work really needed it. Naturally, the whole thing made the prices of his work rise enormously. For example, John Inglis, a personal physician of William III and later of Queen Anne, was portrayed in medal in 1703 but he never wanted to reveal to anyone how he had succeeded and how much it had cost him. The same applies to Sir Henry Newton, English ambassador in Florence, who in 1709 convinced Soldani to portray him in what is considered the most beautiful medal of the master.

In addition to the medals that made him a star of the chisel, among his other most famous works the Venus of the Medici and the Dancing Faun made in bronze from marble originals of the grand-ducal collection on behalf of John Churchill, first Duke of Malborough, in 1711. Still visible in the Hall of the Blenheim Palace are considered two wonders of the English artistic heritage. Also noteworthy are the wax models made for the ceramic sculptures of the Manifattura di Doccia, now on display at the Richard-Ginori museum.

He continued with the commissioned works until he finally retired from artistic activity in 1736 and moved to his palace in Montevarchi where, between 1706 and 1709, he directed the rebuilding of the Collegiate Church of San Lorenzo. his brother Angiolo Domenico. Massimiliano, in Montevarchi, also had two sisters both nuns but an Augustinian in the Monastery of Santa Maria del Latte and the other Benedictine in that of Sant'Angelo alla Ginestra.

He died three years later and his ashes rest, or at least rested, in the church of San Pier Maggiore in Florence.

Massimiliano Soldani Benzi Visited places

Villa Petrolo

 Località Petrolo, 30 - 52021 Mercatale Valdarno - Arezzo
Wedding/Convention/Concert location

Villa Petrolo, located near the town of Montevarchi in a strategic position between Florence Arezzo and Siena, is a receptive structure composed of the main villa and three independent farmhouses.... see

Offered services

Hotel, Location for Ceremonies and Conferences, Park / Labyrinth / Pond / Garden, Swimming pool

Time period

Italy, Arezzo