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AN ITALIAN LIFESIZE PATINATED-BRONZE OF MERCURY
AN ITALIAN LIFESIZE PATINATED-BRONZE OF MERCURY

AFTER GIAMBOLOGNA, LATE 19TH CENTURY

Details
AN ITALIAN LIFESIZE PATINATED-BRONZE OF MERCURY
AFTER GIAMBOLOGNA, LATE 19TH CENTURY
On a circular grey marble plinth with square breccia marble base
Mercury: 75 in. (190 cm.) high,
The plinth: 29 in. (74 cm.) high

Brought to you by

Adam Kulewicz
Adam Kulewicz

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Lot Essay

Giambologna’s bronze figure of Mercury is perhaps his most recognisable creation. The idea appears to have originated in the early 1560s as a commission from Pier Donato Cesi, the Bishop of Narni, for a bronze figure of Mercury intended to adorn a column in the centre of a courtyard of the University of Bologna. The bronze was never erected at the university, and may have been re-directed as a diplomatic gift from the Medici to the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II, whose sister Joanna was to marry Francesco de’ Medici. The present model more closely follows a slight re-working of the theme which was executed by Giambologna and erected at the Villa Medici by 1580. That bronze is housed today in the Bargello, Florence (illustrated in C. Avery, Giambologna – The Complete Sculpture, Oxford, 1987, no. 34, pp. 124-127, 130 and 256, pls. 14-15).

In 19th Century founders such Benedetto Boschetti and Chiurazzi produced high quality bronze replicas of antique and Renaissance masterpieces for the grand tour market. Although small reductions of Giambologna’s Mercury were produced in large numbers, and vary in quality, lifesize examples such as the present lot, cast finely and requiring a considerable quantity of bronze, were expensive and remain rare.

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