Florence art guide


The Rape
of the Sabines

Douai 1529 - Florence1608

The Flemish artist Jean de Boulogne, known as Giambologna, was one of the finest sculptors of the Mannerist school who created his own personal style around an elegant and carefully studied formalism with refined and dynamically balanced figures. He studied in Antwerp in the workshop of Jean Dubroeuq and then lived in Rome from 1555 to 1557. From there he moved to Florence to live under the protection of Francesco dei Medici. He took part in the competition for the monumental fountain in Piazza Signoria, which was only won by Florentine Bartolomeo Ammannati for his greater experience in practical execution. He later carried out the fountain of Neptune (possibly based on his rejected design in Florence) for Pope Pius IV in Bologna (1563-66).

Venus at Boboli
Venus at Boboli

He sculpted a great many famous nudes, like the Venus of the Fountain at Villa della Petraia, the Fountain of the Ocean (1575) and the Venus of the little Grotto in the Boboli Gardens, the Medici Mercury (in the Bargello Museum) and the group of the Rape of the Sabines (1574-82) in the Loggia dei Lanzi.
He excelled in garden sculpture: the huge statue of the Appennine in the Park of Pratolino is a typical example. The equestrian statue of Cosimo I, which is still in Piazza Signoria, is one of the finest examples of the sober and balanced Mannerist school. He was buried in the Flemish funeral chapel (which he decorated himself), situated behind the chorus of the church of Santissima Annunziata.

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