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A BRONZE GROUP OF THE RAPE OF A SABINE
A BRONZE GROUP OF THE RAPE OF A SABINE
A BRONZE GROUP OF THE RAPE OF A SABINE
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THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
A BRONZE GROUP OF THE RAPE OF A SABINE

AFTER GIAMBOLOGNA, THE CAST ATTRIBUTED TO GIANFRANCESCO SUSINI (1585-1653), CIRCA 1620-1650

Details
A BRONZE GROUP OF THE RAPE OF A SABINE
AFTER GIAMBOLOGNA, THE CAST ATTRIBUTED TO GIANFRANCESCO SUSINI (1585-1653), CIRCA 1620-1650
On an integrally cast naturalistic bronze base; dark brown patina with lighter high points
23½ in. (59.8 cm.) high
Provenance
Michael Jaffe, CBE (1923-1997), and by descent.
Literature
COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
H. Weihrauch, Europäische Bronzestatuetten 15.-18. Jahrhundert, Brunswick, 1967, fig. 289, p. 213 and 219.
Edinburgh, London and Vienna, Royal Scottish Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Giambologna 1529-1608 - Sculptor to the Medici, A. Radcliffe, C. Avery and M. Leithe-Jasper eds., 19 Aug. 1978 - 28 Jan. 1979, no. 58, p. 108.
Frankfurt, Museum alter Plastik, Die Bronzen der Fürstlichen Sammlung Liechtenstein, 26 Nov. 1986 - 15 Feb. 1987, no. 16, pp. 176-177.
C. Avery, Giambologna - The Complete Sculpture, Oxford, 1987, no. 89. pp. 144, 235, pl. IV.
Florence, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Giambologna - gli dei, gli eroi, B. Paolozzi Strozzi and D. Zikos eds., 2 Mar. - 15 Jun. 2006, no. 5, pp. 168-169.
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Giambologna - Triumph des Körpers, W. Seipel ed., 27 Jun. - 17 Sep. 2006, no. 32, pp. 273-275.
Exhibited
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, August 2008 - April 2013.
Sale room notice
Please note the revised estimate for this lot is £350-500,000.

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Gillian Ward
Gillian Ward

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Lot Essay

Among sculptors of the 16th century, the ability to carve in marble was considered to be the ultimate challenge, and the creation of a successful group was the highest testament to a sculptor's talent. Earlier in the century, Michelangelo had suggested that the goal of the sculptor should be to create a composition that was serpentine in form - that is, without a dominant viewpoint but equally successful from numerous different angles, inviting the onlooker to move around the sculpture.

In 1579, Giambologna had created a two figure bronze for the Duke of Parma which he developed into the idea of a monumental three figure marble in the early 1580s. It was to be the pinnacle of Giambologna's career as a marble carver and it stands today in the Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, where it was unveiled on 14 January 1583. It is known by the title the Rape of a Sabine but, interestingly, the earliest sources give no subject to the group. For Giambologna, the marble group was an intellectual exercise in the successful integration of three figures into a balanced whole; the subject was of secondary importance to him.
The group was an instant sensation and there was immediate demand for bronze reductions to be made. The great art patron Emperor Rudolf II is known to have owned an example and other casts entered princely collections around Europe.

The present cast is a beautifully executed bronze and compares extremely closely with examples in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, and the collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein (illustrated in Weihrauch and Liechtenstein, locs. cit.), both of which have been attributed to Gianfrancesco Susini. Gianfrancesco was the nephew of Antonio Susini who was Giambologna's principal assistant and the author of many of the most beautiful casts to have emanated from the Giambologna workshop. Gianfrancesco studied and worked with his uncle and his casts share the jewel-like quality and rich, reddish-gold lacquer for which the latter was famous.

The bronze offered here also has a distinguished provenance, having belonged to the art historian Michael Jaffe. Jaffe was a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and director of the Fitzwilliam Museum between 1973 and 1990. His portrait was sculpted by Elizabeth Frink.

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