Andrea di Michele di Francesco di Cioni (known as Verrocchio) was born in 1435, and trained as a goldsmith, becoming one of the most influential artists of his time. His workshop became a training ground for many important painters including Leonardo da Vinci.

Knowledge of some parts of Verrocchio's work is scanty though his early career was almost entirely taken up with metalwork. After this he went on to become a sculptor using the mediums of terracotta, stone and bronze. His subsequent career in sculpting can be tracked with some accuracy, but records of his efforts as a painter are few.

We know that in 1472 his name was listed as a member of the Confraternity of St. Luke which was largely made up of painters. However, with the exception of the Baptism of Christ, no painting or altarpiece can be definitely attributed to him. Even with this work no documentary evidence has ever shown up. Verrocchio was also responsible for the painting of banners for jousting contests, and some theatrical masks; these all having since disappeared.

Even with the Baptism of Christ it is thought that Verrocchio's main contribution was to develop the overall composition and design. Much of the actual painting work was left up to his more talented assistants with it being generally agreed Leonardo was responsible for the angel on the left and part of the background area; Botticelli and Credi also participated in this work, probably concentrating on the other angel. The one area of the painting probably by Verrocchio himself is the image of John the Baptist; it is thought that this figure was painted entirely without assistance as it displays Verrocchio's fascination with bones, tendons, muscles and other aspects of the human body.

Another painting, which was started during the time Leonardo was with Verrocchio, is the altarpiece of the Madonna di Piazza done for the Cathedral of Pistoia. There have been continued efforts to associate Leonardo with this work and this is documented under the Paintings area of this Web site.

In sculpture, Verrocchio's best-known works are as follows:

    • The marble tomb of Piero and Giovanni Medici. It was Verrocchio's first major sculpture and is double-sided; at the time this was a very original idea.
    • The bronze figures of Christ and St. Thomas in which the doubting saint examines Christ's wounds. The two figures in this work were cast separately and fitted together upon installation. This was a challenging project as the two figures had to fit in a niche that was originally designed to only take one. This problem was solved in part by placing the figure of Thomas so it projects out of the niche.
    • David, a bronze statue for which it is thought a handsome young Leonardo was probably the model. The statue carries a haunting and secretive smile, not unlike that which was to reappear later on in the painting of the Mona Lisa.
    • The copper globe which tops the lantern on the Florence Cathedral. Cast in 1471, the globe was raised to its lofty height with the assistance of a special machine probably designed and built with the assistance of Leonardo. The globe weighs in excess of two tons.
    • A bronze of a horse and rider commemorating a professional soldier. It was commissioned late in Verrocchio's life and he died before it was finished. Verrocchio had finished it to the stage of making a clay model of horse and rider; he entrusted its completion to Lorenzo di Credi, but it was handed on to Venetian Alessandro Leopardi who was expert at bronze casting. He added certain decorative details and it is his signature which appears on the statue. The Colleoni was installed in the piazza of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice where it still stands today.
    • The Bust of a Woman with Flowers. Some experts now attribute this work to Leonardo. This work is significant for being the first bust in Renaissance art which displayed the hands.

    Verrocchio died in Venice at the age of 53.