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Marble Sculpture

Venus Bologna Statue

Venus Bologna Statue

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Venus bathing statue, marble, studio of Giambologna, Italy, 1575.

Giambologna (Giovanni da Bologna) executed several figures of Venus, mostly for fountains. In these he achieves the Mannerist ideal in elongation and in concious courtly elegance.

This sculpture was taken from estate moulds of Castle Howard, and is attributed to the late studio of Giambologna, when copies were made due to the success of the original sculpture.

A work in marble by the Flemish sculptor and bronze worker Giambologna, commissioned around 1575 by the Medicis for the Boboli Gardens in Florence.The artist has infused the formal structure of the Venus with a sense of movement and precarious balance, which gives a decidedly anticlassical air to its Michelangelesque forms.The figure is shown with an almost unnatural twisting movement that originates in the left shoulder, which is turned backwards, and terminates in her hand which is resting on some drapery, which in turn covers an amphora. Her face, which is looking down, is turned so far to her right that her chin is in line with her shoulder, which is twisted forwards with her right hand resting on her left shoulder.The Flemish-Italian sculptor Giovanni da Bologna was, after Michelangelo, the most important and original 16th-century sculptor. One of the supreme exponents of the mannerist style, Giovanni was an important influence in the development of the baroque.

Giovanni da Bologna, also known as Giambologna and Jean de Boulogne, was born in Douai, Flanders. He received his early training in the studio of the Flemish sculptor Jacques Dubroeucq. About 1554 Giovanni traveled to Italy and spent 2 years studying in Rome. During Giovanni's stay in Florence on his way back to Flanders, the collector and connoisseur Bernardo Vecchietti recognized his talent and offered to support him while he pursued his studies in Florence. Within 2 years Giovanni received his first commission from the Medici grand dukes, and he remained in Florence in the service of the Medici family until his death on Aug. 13, 1608.

In 1560 Giovanni competed unsuccessfully for the commission of the Fountain of Neptune in Florence. Three years later he signed the contract for his first major work, the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna (completed 1567). This was followed by a series of fountains for Medici villas and gardens in which Giovanni succeeded in making the sculpture an integral part of the patterns created by the flowing water.

In 1581 a contemporary wrote of Giovanni, "His dearest ambition is to equal Michelangelo, and in the view of many connoisseurs, he has already done so, and may surpass him if he lives." This need to compete with Michelangelo was a vital element in the early part of Giovanni's career. This was made most obvious when Francesco de' Medici commissioned him in 1561 to produce a group, Florence Triumphant over Pisa, to act as a pendant to Michelangelo's Victory group. The survival of the wax model, the intermediate full-scale model in plaster, and the final marble group (now in the Museo Nazionale, Florence) enables us to follow the progressive transformation of Michelangelo's forms into the graceful and sinuous lines so characteristic of Giovanni's style.


130H x 38W x 40D cm.

Does not include the bottom plinth.

(Picture, Portrait of Giambologna)

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