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Giambologna: Court Sculptor to Ferdinando I

Giambologna: Court Sculptor to Ferdinando I


Recently discovered documents show that Giambologna, the great sculptor at the court of the Medici whose bronzes delighted all Europe, made six large garden sculptures for King Henri IV of France, otherwise essentially unknown. This book describes the garden project and discusses three bronzes identified as from the project, in particular a hitherto unknown Venus.


Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, built up his relationship with the French crown with numerous diplomatic gifts, including the creation of new gardens at St-German-en-Laye laid out for Henri IV by the engineer and designer Tommaso Francini, who had designed and built Ferdinando's own Pratolino gardens, and sculptures by Giambologna that would adorn them. This was in the years 1597–1600, and preparatory to the marriage of Ferdinando's niece Maria to Henri IV in 1600.


Blanca Truyols describes the nature of Henri IV’s beautiful gardens – in the latest Mannerist style, using a host of materials (stone, shell, crystal) and rare plants, the extravagant water features in which Francini was a specialist, and an array of statuary.   She places this important garden in context and also discusses the diplomatic manoeuvring between the two states. 


Alexander Rudigier examines the surviving works by Giambologna associated with the gardens, including a hitherto unknown almost life-size Venus, the only life-size bronze by Giambologna ever to be rediscovered. He compares this to the Mercury in the Louvre and the Triton in the Metropolitan Museum in New York also originally for the gardens, as well as with Giambologna’s work as a whole. He traces the career of the German founder of the statue, Gerhard Meyer, working in Florence, who signed the Venus. This leads to an important discussion of the tradition of casting and of Giambologna’s late work in general.


Alexander Rudigier provides an important new survey of the sculpture of Giambologna's later career, and identifies for the first time his use of an 'imperfect' or 'unfinished' effect and its crucial role in his art.


Lars Olof Larsson, author of the standard monograph on Giambologna's pupil Adraen de Vries, provides a contribution on the new Venus. Bertrand Jestaz, the leading scholar of Italian Renaissance studies in France, provides an introduction and overview. 

  • Alexander Rudigier and Blanca Truyols

    By Alexander Rudigier and Blanca Truyols

    Introduction by Bertrand Jestaz

    Contribution by Lars Olof Larsson


    September 2019 

    Hardback, 300 x 245 mm

    376 pages, 600 colour illustrations

    ISBN: 978-1-912168-14-9

  • In the press

    "...this book is a luxury item, with a handsome format, lavish slipcase, high-quality paper and a characteristically elegant design by Laura Parker." —The Art Newspaper


    "lavishly illustrated book" —The Burlington Magazine 

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