"Portrait of Giovanni Bologna" by Hendrick Goltzius, collection Teylers Museum

Giambologna (1529 – 13 August 1608) — born Jean Boulogne (and incorrectly known as Giovanni da Bologna or Giovanni Bologna) — was a Flemish sculptor, celebrated for his marble and bronze statuary in a late Renaissance or Mannerist style.

The Rape of the Sabine Women (1574-82), Florence. The title was only assigned after completion.


  • Biography 1
  • Work 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Giambologna (1529-1608) was born in Medici's most important court sculptors. He died in Florence at the age of 79 - the Medici had never allowed him to leave Florence, as they rightly feared that either the Austrian or Spanish Habsburgs would entice him into permanent employment. He was interred in a chapel he designed himself in the Santissima Annunziata.


Samson Slaying a Philistine, about 1562.

Giambologna became well known for a fine sense of action and movement, and a refined, differentiated surface finish. Among his most famous works are the Mercury (of which he did four versions), poised on one foot, supported by a zephyr. The god raises one arm to point heavenwards, in a gesture borrowed from the repertory of classical rhetoric[2] that is characteristic of Giambologna's maniera.

Giambologna's several depictions of Venus established a canon of proportions and set models for the goddess's representation that were influential for two generations of sculptors, in Italy and in the North. He created allegories strongly promoting Medicean political propaganda, such as Florence defeating Pisa and, less overtly, Samson Slaying a Philistine, for Francesco de' Medici (1562).[3]

He delighted in solving the complex spatial problems of three intertwined figures in his famous Rape of the Sabine Women (1574–82). The subject was not finally determined until after it had been set up in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence's Piazza della Signoria. Heracles beating the Centaur Nessus (1599) is also a conscious tour de force.[4] It is also in the Loggia dei Lanzi.

The equestrian statue of Cosimo I de' Medici also in Florence, was completed by his studio assistant Pietro Tacca.

Giambologna provided as well as many sculptures for garden grottos and fountains in the Boboli Gardens of Florence and at Pratolino, and the bronze doors of the cathedral of Pisa. For the grotto of the Villa Medicea of Castello he sculpted a series of studies of individual animals, from life, which may now be viewed at the Bargello. Small bronze reductions of many of his sculptures were prized by connoisseurs at the time and ever since, for Giambologna's reputation has never suffered eclipse.

Giambologna was an important influence on later sculptors through his pupils Adriaen de Vries and Pietro Francavilla who left his atelier for Paris in 1601, as well as Pierre Puget who spread Giambologna's influence throughout Northern Europe, and in Italy on Pietro Tacca, who assumed Giambologna's workshop in Florence, and in Rome on Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Alessandro Algardi.


  1. ^ R. Wellens, Jacques du Broeucq, sculpteur et architecte de la renaissance (Brussels) 1962
  2. ^ Compare the figure of Plato in Raphael's School of Athens.
  3. ^ The marble figure for a Medici fountain, the only large marble group by Giambologna to have left Florence, was given to the Victoria and Albert Museum through the Art Fund ([1]; [2]).
  4. ^ A bronze variant is in the Rijksmuseum [3].


Gloria Fossi, et al., "Italian Art", Florence, Giunti Gruppo Editoriale, 2000, ISBN 88-09-01771-4.
"Giambologna, 1529-1608 : sculptor to the Medici : an exhibition organised by the Arts Council of Great Britain etc.", catalogue edited by Charles Avery and Anthony Radcliffe. [London] Arts Council of Great Britain, 1978, ISBN 0-7287-0180-4.

External links

  • Biography with a portrait on
  • Giambologna on
  • A Tour of the location of Giambologna's major works in Florence