The brick steeple flanking the Collegiate Church is an unfinished work because the project entailed marble cladding… inside is a helix-shaped staircase – a masterpiece – unique in its kind
Comitatounplilucca – National Union of Pro Loco
Born in Florence, he was soon defined "Maestro di Porta" due to the work performed for Pietrasanta’s Opera del Duomo. There is no news about his studio/workshop training; the first information dates back to 1485, the year he moved to Pietrasanta, which had passed under the dominion of Florence. Here, he was involved in the work to strengthen the city walls and gate. In 1498, the Pietrasanta fortress was transferred to Charles VIII of France, so Benti headed for Genoa, where in 1499 the abbot Lorenzo Fieschi commissioned him – together with Benedetto da Rovezzano – the marble choir of the Church of Santo Stefano. Today, a portion of it can be seen above the entrance portal, with four marble sheets depicting musician angels in the forefront, and the Fieschi coat-of-arms on the sides. He continued his collaboration with his colleague Benedetto da Rovezzano when Louis XII of France commissioned him, together with Michele D'Auria and Girolamo Viscardi, a funerary monument for the Dukes d'Orléans.
In 1504 the monument was placed in the Celestine monastery in Paris (today it is located in St.-Denis). A strong difference in quality can be noted in the various parts of the sculpture: the four figures relative to the deceased dukes are rendered rather awkwardly and heavily (perhaps attributed to the hand of D'Auria and Viscardi). Totally different is the craftsmanship of the statuettes located at the base, where the art of Benedetto da Rovezzano’s art can be recognised. Benti probably followed the latter in the creation of some of the more rigid statuettes. In 1507 he returned to Pietrasanta to work, and createed the decors of the marble pulpit for the Duomo in San Martino depicting the Four Evangelists. The pedestal for the piece is a previous work by Lorenzo Stagi. A small basin – today a stoup – bearing the words “MDVIII Donatus Renti fiorentinus faciebat” was probably part of the composition.
The subsequent years document his interventions also on the adjacent Battistero, in particular on a tub, and on the steeple, for which he may even have been responsible for the design. We know – through official signed deeds and letters – that in 1518 he was designated Michelangelo’s trusted reference person to oversee the opening works of the new quarries in Seravezza and the transportation of the marble. Until 1531, he continued his involvement with Pietrasanta’s Opera del Duomo: he was entrusted with sculpting the Marzocco and the Medici coats-of-arms of Pope Leo X to be placed on the facade of the Church of S. Martino. He also worked on the decors of urban works or for surrounding churches; for example, he sculpted the figures of Saints Sebastian, Rocco and Anthony for the Pieve di Vallecchia. He died in Pietrasanta in 1537.
the photographs published in yhe TimeLine were taken from the websites:
upload.wikimedia.org, www.rossellipietrasanta.com, www.contadolucchese.it, www.duomodipietrasanta.org, upload.wikimedia.org,