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ATTRIBUTED TO GIAMBOLOGNA, ITALIAN, CIRCA 1550
ATTRIBUTED TO GIAMBOLOGNA, ITALIAN, CIRCA 1550
ATTRIBUTED TO GIAMBOLOGNA, ITALIAN, CIRCA 1550
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ATTRIBUTED TO GIAMBOLOGNA, ITALIAN, CIRCA 1550
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ATTRIBUTED TO GIAMBOLOGNA, ITALIAN, CIRCA 1550

A WAX BOZZETTO OF A STANDING MAN, POSSIBLY A MODEL FOR JULIUS CAESAR

Details
ATTRIBUTED TO GIAMBOLOGNA, ITALIAN, CIRCA 1550
A WAX BOZZETTO OF A STANDING MAN, POSSIBLY A MODEL FOR JULIUS CAESAR
11. 1/2 in. (29.2 cm) tall
Provenance
Bernardo Vecchietti (1514-1590), Il Riposo, Bagno a Ripoli [possibly].
William Lock (1732-1810), of Norbury Park, Surrey [possibly].
Christie’s, London, April 16, 1785, Lots 19 and 20 [possibly].
Richard Cosway (1742-1821) or Joseph Nollekens (1737-1823) [possibly].
Sir Benjamin West (1738-1820), President of the Royal Academy, Newman Street, London.
By descent to his great-nephew, T. A. G. Margary.
R. J. Emerson, Royal Society of British Sculptors.
Sir Charles Thomas Wheeler, K.C.V.O., C.B.E and President of the Royal Academy (1892-1974) and sold, Christie’s, London, 12 May, 1970, lot 27.
Acquired from Arthur Kauffmann (1887-1983), Grafton Street, London.

Literature
C. Avery, Giambologna’s Julius Caesar and His Patron, the ‘Magnifico’ Bernardo Vecchietti, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, 2017 (illustrated, fig. 3).
Comparative Literature:
C. Krysza-Gersch, ed., Schatten der Zeit: Giambologna, Michelangelo und die Medici-Kapelle, Skulpturensammlung, Dresden, exh. cat. 23 June – 7 October, 2018, catalogue no. 19, pp. 168-173.
A. ten Eyck Gardner, ‘West’s legacy,’ The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, no. 7 (March, 1966), pp. 225-236.

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Lot Essay

This extremely rare and well-preserved wax bozzetto is, almost certainly, the work of Giovanni Bologna (ca. 1524-1608), a Flemish sculptor most notable for his work in Florence under the patronage of the Medici Grand Dukes. Wax was perhaps the most expressive and immediate material used by 16th and 17th century sculptors. And this sculpture, clearly not by coincidence, was in the collections of important 18th, 19th and 20th century artists, including two Presidents of the Royal Academy.

Giambologna, as he became later known, travelled to Italy in 1550 to study the masterpieces of Antique and Renaissance sculpture. While in Rome, he met the Florentine collector and sculpture connoisseur, Bernardo Vecchietti. Vecchietti persuaded the young artist to stay in Italy and to live with him in Florence to continue his studies. It was Vechietti that introduced Giambologna to Francesco de’ Medici, who later appointed him as court sculptor and launched the young artist’s career. Vechietti’s early recognition of Giambologna’s talents are largely responsible for the survival of many of Giambologna’s wax models, more of which exist than any other Renaissance sculptor. The collection is detailed in Raffaelo Borgini’s 1584 book Il Riposo, title after the name of Vecchietti’s villa. Borgini describes a room filled with ‘modelli by Giambologna, and statues by other great masters.’ Vecchietti’s collection remained relatively intact through 1770, when his heirs sold it to the connoisseur William Lock, who then sold these wax figures in two separate lots at Christie’s in 1785, the first lot was described as ‘Twenty-two wax models by Giov. Di Bologna…’ and the second as ‘Four ditto.’ These lots were bought by the painter Richard Cosway and the sculptor Joseph Nollekens, respectively. The present wax, almost certainly part of one of these two lots, eventually made its way into the collection of the American painter and Royal Academy president, Sir Benjamin West.

This wax is clearly closely related to Giambologna’s small lime wood figure of Julius Caesar, also part of Vecchietti’s collection and now in a private collection, and discussed by both Avery and Scholten and recently on-view in the Dresden exhibition (C. Avery and C. Krysza-Gersh, op. cit.). This wax model was misattributed for decades, as the work of Michelangelo, and recent scholarship has now linked the work to Giambologna. Early in his career, Giambologna met Michelangelo, and as the story goes, presented the master with a completed wax model. ‘Michelangelo took the model in hand, and immediately ruined it, but as seemed best to him, giving it a new attitude and resolving it, with marvelous bravura, into the opposite of what the young man had made, saying, ‘Now, first go learn how to sketch [bozzare], and then how to finish.’ This lesson resonated with Giambologna, evident in the development of his technique and his process. For the remainder of his career, GIambologna assiduously modeled his creations in wax before executing them in full scale.

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