or Giovanni da Bologna or Jean Boulogne

born 1529, Douai, Spanish Neth.
died Aug. 13, 1608, Florence

Flemish-born Italian sculptor.

After studies under Jacques Dubroeucq, he went to Rome in 1550, where his style was influenced by Hellenistic sculpture and the works of Michelangelo; he settled in Florence in 1552. He produced many of his most important works for the Medici family, but it was the Fountain of Neptune (1563–66) in Bologna that made him famous. His bronze equestrian statue of Cosimo I (1587–93), the first of its kind made in Florence, became a pattern for similar statues all over Europe. His garden sculptures
notably for Florence's Boboli Gardens and for three Medici villas, including the colossal Apennine (1570–80) at Pratolino
enjoyed great popularity. He was also a prolific manufacturer of bronze statuettes; many of his working models still survive. He was the outstanding sculptor of Italian Mannerism.

Mercury, bronze figure by Giambologna, с 1580; in the Bargello ...

Alinari/Art Resource, New York

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▪ Italian artist
also called  Giovanni Da Bologna, or Jean Boulogne  
born 1529, Douai, Spanish Netherlands [now in France]
died Aug. 13, 1608, Florence [Italy]

      preeminent Mannerist sculptor in Italy during the last quarter of the 16th century.

 First trained under Jacques Dubroeucq, a Flemish sculptor who worked in an Italianate style, Giambologna went to Rome around 1555, where his style was influenced by Hellenistic sculpture and the works of Michelangelo. Settling in Florence (1557), where he spent the rest of his life, he attracted the notice of Francesco de' Medici, for whom many of his most important works were made. Among his earliest Florentine works were a bronze Bacchus, later placed on a fountain in the Borgo San Jacopo, and a bronze Venus, made for the Villa di Castello and now at the Villa Medicea della Petraia, near Florence. The “Fountain of Neptune” at Bologna (1563–66), which emulated Michelangelo's “Victory,” established his reputation. The full-scale plaster model of this work (Accademia, Florence), initially set up with the “Victory” in the Palazzo Vecchio, was replaced in 1570 by the marble version, now in the Museo Nazionale. His “Samson and a Philistine” (1567; Victoria and Albert Museum, London) displays violence and anguish in a masterfully contrived composition that recalls such complex Hellenistic pieces as the “Laocoon.” The “Rape of the Sabines” (1579–83; Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence), while uncluttered and monumental, is even more complex. The composition is subtly designed so that it can be viewed from any side with equal effect. In his fountain “Mercury” (c. 1580; Bargello, Florence; see photograph—>) Giambologna uses the shimmering play of light on the figure's smooth surface to enhance the effect of fleetness. His bronze equestrian portrait of Cosimo I de' Medici (1587–94; Piazza della Signoria, Florence) is also notable.

      Giambologna enjoyed great popularity as a maker of garden sculpture for the Boboli Gardens, Florence (“Fountain of Oceanus,” 1571–76; “Venus of the Grotticella,” 1573), and for the Medici villas at Pratolino (the colossal “Apennine,” 1581), Petraia, and Castello. He was also a prolific manufacturer of bronze statuettes. In addition to his secular commissions, Giambologna was responsible for a large number of religious sculptures, which include (in marble) the fine “Altar of Liberty” in Lucca cathedral (1577–79) and several bronze reliefs.

      An Italian sculptor in all but birth, Giambologna transformed the Florentine Mannerism of the mid-16th century into a style of European significance. His ability to capture fleeting expression and the vivacity and sensual delight of his mature style anticipate the Baroque sculpture of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. For three centuries his work was more generally admired than that of any sculptor except Michelangelo.

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Universalium. 2010.

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