On a later circular ebonized wooden base
29½ in. (75 cm.) high, 33¾ in. (85.7 cm.) high with base
William Randolph Hearst, St. Donat's Castle, Wales [by repute]
Charles Dent
Giambologna and his Followers: Sculpture from the Collections of Michael Hall, Miami-Dade College Museum of Art, Freedom Tower, 9 October 2009-20 February 2010.

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Lot Essay

The original model upon which the present lot is based is Giambologna's Groticella Venus, probably carved for Francesco de' Medici in circa 1570. The Venus, presently surmounting a fountain in the Groticella, the interor chamber of Buontalenti's grotto in the Boboli gardens, was revered by many and, in some circles, was even referred to as the most perfect female nude ever carved. With this composition Giambologna created a complex pose and a sinuous female elegance, but with it also defined his vision of the perfect female form. It was so influential that it would also go on to inspire the monumental, allegorical female figure in his group of Florence triumphant over Pisa in circa 1575, which was commissioned as a pendant to Michelangelo's allegory of Victory on the occasion of Francesco de' Medici's wedding to Joanna of Austria.

Many superlatives could be used to describe Venus' perfection, but above all it was formidable for an ingenious compositional technique that would ultimately define some of Giambologna's later masterpieces - it was remarkable, as Holderbaum noted, for its figura serpentinata (quoted in Avery, op. cit., p. 107). This meant that, when viewed from any angle, one could always experience Giambologna's multiple, complex, downwardly spiralling lines - an astonishing technique that he used in a number of compositions, and which he perfected with the creation of the marble Rape of a Sabine in 1581-2.

An identical model, although slightly larger, was sold Christie's, London, 4 December 2008, lot 21.

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