(b Settignano, nr. Florence, c.1430; bur. Florence, 16 Jan. 1464).
Florentine sculptor, born into a family of stonemasons (the village from which he takes his name was renowned for this trade). Like most of his contemporaries he formed his style on Donatello's work of the 1430s. He learnt from him the practice of carving in very low relief, and the lively, thick-set figures of children on the master's Singing Gallery for Florence Cathedral (1433–9) provided models for Desiderio's various reliefs of the Madonna and Child. Desiderio's artistic personality, however, was more delicate than Donatello's, and for refinement of handling he is unsurpassed by any Italian sculptor of his period, as is seen particularly in his portrait busts of women, good examples of which are in Florence (Bargello) and Washington (NG). He died young and his only important public work was the tomb of the Florentine humanist and statesman Gregorio Marsuppini (d1453) in S. Croce. This is architecturally dependent on the tomb of Leonardo Bruni by Bernardino Rossellino (possibly Desiderio's teacher), executed for the same church about ten years earlier, but is sculpturally richer and more animated.