b. 1580 Montevarchi, Italy, d. 1654 Rome
Francesco Mochi, whose early dramatic works are now considered the first truly Baroque sculptures of the 1600s, had a roller-coaster career. Despite great successes between 1610 and1630, he was eventually eclipsed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini's popularity.
In his early years, Mochi worked in many of the thriving cities of central Italy, including Rome, Florence, Piacenza, and Orvieto. His intimacy with the powerful Farnese family propelled his early career, bringing him many commissions, including the over-life-size, bronze equestrian statues of the duke of Parma, Ranuccio, and his father, Alessandro Farnese in Piacenza. After working on the equestrian statues for seventeen years, Mochi returned to Rome in 1629.
The young Bernini with his exuberant Baroque style, however, now dominated that city, and Mochi's work was no longer fashionable. Although he received some commissions, even from Bernini, who gave him the project of the statue of Saint Veronica for the crossing of Saint Peter's Basilica, Mochi grew ever more disappointed. He rejected the prevailing taste of the Baroque even more adamantly, and his figures become more linear, ascetic, and spiritualized. More and more frequently, he lost commissions to Bernini and Alessandro Algardi, had them rescinded, or had his finished pieces rejected by patrons. He died with a reputation for being difficult and bitter.