Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli

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Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli (February 19, 1900 – January 17, 1975) was an Italian archaeologist and art historian.


A Marxist, Bianchi Bandinelli was descended from ancient aristocracy in Siena. His early research focused on the Etruscan centers close to his family lands, Clusium (1925) and Suana (1929). Disgusted with Italian fascism, despite being the man who showed Hitler around Rome under Mussolini, he converted to extreme communism after World War II. As an anti-fascist, he was appointed to a number of important art-historical positions immediately after the war. He was director of the new government's fine arts and antiquities ministry (Antichità e Belle Arti, 1945–48). From his chairs at the universities of Florence and Rome, he directed the new breed of Italian archaeologists sensitive to classical history based upon dialectical materialism. He also taught at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. In the 1950s and 1960s he undertook the writing of comprehensive texts on classical art intended to reach a wide and literate audience. He founded the Enciclopedia dell'arte antica in 1958. In the mid 1960s, Bianchi Bandinelli was commissioned to write the two volumes on Roman art for the French Arts of Mankind series. These works brought his writing to a larger audience and helped usher in social criteria for art into a larger and English-speaking audience. In 1967 he founded the Dialoghi di archeologia with his students, one of the most innovative, if controversial, periodicals on classical archaeology.

His interpretation of art was frequently maverick and, if not always compelling, forcefully grounded. One such case is his interpretation of the famous Belvedere Apollo, a Roman copy of a Greek work now thought to date to the fourth century B.C. Although hailed by most art historians as a copy of the original Leochares, Bianchi Bandinelli characterized the piece as a frigid copy of a Hellenistic work without relation to Leochares.

One of his interests was the interrelation between Hellenistic, Etruscan and Roman art. His students included Giovanni Becatti, Antonio Giuliano, Mario Torelli, Andrea Carandini and Filippo Coarelli. His memoir of fascism in Italy was published in 1995 (Hitler e Mussolini, 1938: il viaggio del Führer in Italia)


  • La critica d'arte (journal publisher from 1935, editor and co-founder)
  • Roma: La fine dell'arte antica (Rome: The Late Empire, Roman Art A.D. 200-400, 1970)
  • Roma: L'arte romana nel centro del potere (Rome: The Center of Power, 500 B.C. to A.D. 200., 1969)
  • Arte etrusca e arte italica (1963, editor)
  • Storicità dell'arte classica (1950)
  • Dialoghi di archeologia (serial, editor)
  • Enciclopedia dell'arte antica, classica e orientale (1958-1966, editor)
  • The Buried City: Excavations at Leptis Magna (1966, editor)
  • Hitler e Mussolini, 1938: il viaggio del Führer in Italia (1995)
  • Clusium: Ricerche archeologich e topografiche su Chiusi il suo territorio in età etrusca (1925)
  • Apollo di Belvedere (1935)
  • Nozioni di storia dell'archeologia e di storiografia dell'arte antica: lezioni introduttive del corso di archeologia (1952)
  • L'Arte dell'antichità classica (1976, directed).


  • Barbanera, Marcello. Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli e il suo mondo, Bari, Edipuglia / Università degli studi di Roma "La Sapienza", 2000
  • von Blanckenhagen, Peter H.. "Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli." Archaeology (April 1975): 125.
  • Barbanera, Marcello. Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli: biografia ed epistolario di un grande archeologo (Milano: Skira, c2003).
  • Barzanti, Roberto. Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli: archeologo curioso del futuro. Siena: Protagon, 1994
  • Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Research Guide to the History of Western Art. Sources of Information in the Humanities, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982, pp. 137–8
  • Ridgway, F.R.. "Bianchi Bandinelli, Ranuccio." Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 1, p. 144 (note on Belvedere Apollo) and 158.

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