The Bronze Sculpture page contains 55 images of Neoclassical and Baroque bronzes
compiled from several visits to the Getty Center Museum, including some detail shots.

Acquiring a quality image of the bronze sculptures in the museum can be challenging
(hand-held exposures are generally quite slow and the shadows and contrast are high).

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Abduction of Helen Susini 1731


Abduction of Helen Susini 3855

The Abduction of Helen by Paris, Giovanni Francesco Susini, Italian, Florence, 1627; bronze on a gilt bronze base (1750).

This tabletop bronze depicts a cataclysmic event from Greek mythology when the Trojan prince Paris abducts Helen, wife of the Spartan king Menelaus, which incited the Trojan War. In Susini's portrayal, Paris, nude except for his cap, lifts the struggling figure of Helen as he steps over the fallen figure of a servant who tries to stop him. The weight of Helen's voluptuous figure is suggested by the apparent slipping of her position against Paris' body and the strong grasp Paris exerts to hold her up. The bronze is cast with precisely modeled, naturalistic detail of facial features and hair, expressions, and the bulging veins in Paris' hands which further enhance the realism of the physical and emotional struggle. The sculpture with its rocky base suggestive of a landscape was later set into a gilt bronze socle.


Abduction of Helen Susini 3224


Abduction of Helen Susini 3848

Both the bronze's subject (the Trojan War) and its small-scale format reveal the artist's interest in classical culture. The handling of the figures, however, shows the influence of Italian Mannerist sculpture of the 1600s. The sculptor, Giovanni Francesco Susini, welded the three nude figures together in an intensely dramatic composition. While Paris attempts to carry Helen off, she valiantly struggles against him. Below them a female servant protests. The women twist around the central spiral of Paris' lithe body. Susini arranges the figures as if on a stage; both Paris and Helen turn their faces toward the front. Yet, the spiral composition also encourages the viewer to walk around the piece, offering interesting alternate perspectives. From the sides and back, the details of the figures' exertion are visible: as he sinks his fingers into Helen's yielding flesh, the veins on Paris' hands project and Helen's hair flies loose.


Abduction of Helen Susini 1744

Giovanni Francesco Susini was a pivotal figure in early 17th century sculpture in Florence. His Abduction of Helen exhibits the hallmarks of the late Mannerist style which dominated art in Florence of the early 17th century, but it also incorporated features of the new Baroque style being practiced in Rome. The spiral motion of Paris' body establishes a composition meant to be viewed in the round (from many angles), reflecting the influence of Florentine Mannerism, but the selection of a primary view, the emphasis on the psychological drama, and the sense of a moment captured in time are features associated with the Baroque. Paris' striding pose, Helen's anguished expression, and the sinking of Paris' fingers into Helen's soft, yielding flesh all recall GianLorenzo Bernini's marble sculpture of the Rape of Proserpine, which Susini would have seen on a trip to Rome in 1620. This innovative sculptural group is one of the earliest examples of the Baroque style in Florentine sculpture.


Leda Night Clock Andromeda 4052

Baroque Side Table, Italian, Rome, c. 1720-1730, carved and gilt linden wood with marble top.

The form and decoration of this massive table, animated by masks and female heads turning in all directions, display the dynamic style of the Baroque in Rome. Certain aspects, however, point to the transition toward the Rococo, including bits of draped garlands, the broken architectural elements, and the freely handled scrolls. Beneath the top, stretchers boldly curve out from the center to connect the four legs, which turn and twist outwards.

Atop the table are the Night Clock by Giovanni Battista Foggini (woodwork by Leonard van der Vinne), made in the Medici workshops in Florence, 1704-1705, of ebony, gilt bronze, and semiprecious stones in the method known as Pietre Dure. Details on the Night Clock and Pietre Dure can be seen on the Furniture and Decorative Art pages. Flanking the Night Clock are two sculptures by Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi: Leda and the Swan and Andromeda and the Sea Monster, which are detailed below.

Giovanni Battista Foggini was the court sculptor and the court architect for Grand Duke Cosimo III de' Medici (see the Laocoön further below). Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (or Soldani) was the finest bronze caster in Europe in the late 1600s (often casting other artists work), and was also a superb medallist who was made the director of the Grand ducal mint. Foggini and Soldani were the two most significant proponents of the Florentine late Baroque style in sculpture.


Leda and the Swan Benzi 4057


Andromeda and the Sea Monster Benzi 1736

Leda and the Swan (1725); Andromeda and the Sea Monster (1710-1716),
Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi, Italian, bronze on gray-green marble base with bronze mounts.

These two bronze groups represent the mythological tales of Andromeda and the Sea Monster and Leda and the Swan. Executed as a pair, they are mounted on identical marble bases (possibly verde antico) with bronze mounts around the corners of the bases (duck-billed dolphins with dog noses for Leda and undulating, sinuous sea monsters for Andromeda). Both sculptures demonstrate Soldani-Benzi's ability as a dramatic storyteller, presenting the figures as if they are actors on a stage. Each composition is organized on principles of diagonal lines set against the vertical tree trunk. The strong diagonals create an interplay between the two groups, which otherwise exhibit contrasting forms and emotions.

These complicated compositions required the assembly of many parts, and the exquisitely detailed and refined chasing along with the carefully polished surfaces are among the finest examples of Soldani-Benzi’s work. He was sent to the Tuscan Academy of Rome by Grand Duke Cosimo III de' Medici to revive Florentine art by immersing young artists in the High Baroque movement in Rome. There, along with traditional training in painting and sculpture, Soldani-Benzi made reliefs of famous paintings, which had an impact on his approach to narrative both in relief and in the round. Soldani-Benzi's work as a medallist and goldsmith is evident in the precision and refinement of the finish in these groups.

Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi developed the composition of the Leda group from that of his pre-existing Andromeda group.

Enamored of the beautiful Leda, the god Jupiter seduced her in the form of a swan. In this bronze version of the mythological scene, Leda and the swan are suggestively posed: the arc of the lovers' embracing arms and wings and the curvature of their bodies, poised before union, increases the erotic suspense. The swath of drapery trapped between Leda's thighs, as well as her movement drawing the swan down towards her, hint at the inevitable moment of union. This tale of seduction, mentioned in Ovid's Metamorphoses, was a popular subject for artists from the Renaissance onwards. An unusual aspect of this version, however, is that Castor and Pollux, the fruit of the union, are not shown. Instead, the artist included Cupid, the god of love. Perched on his wings, Cupid encourages the amorous Jupiter. The contrasting textures of Leda's smooth voluptuous skin and the swan's feathers hint at Soldani-Benzi's technical virtuosity with bronze casting.

Andromeda and the Sea Monster depicts a dramatic moment from the ancient Greek author Euripides' tale of Andromeda and Perseus. Andromeda's mother angered the gods with her boast that Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids, the attendants of the god of the sea, Poseidon. To appease the offended Poseidon, who threatened to destroy their entire kingdom, Andromeda's parents sacrificed their daughter by leaving her where she would be devoured by his monster. As Andromeda awaits the monster, chained to a rock, Perseus flies overhead, falls instantly in love with her, and rescues her by slaying the beast. Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi's interpretation of the story is unusual because he focused on Andromeda's horror at the monster instead of on her rescue. As the sea monster lunges towards her, the nude Andromeda recoils, straining against the chains that tie her to the rocky ledge. Her hair blows behind her, indicating sudden movement. The sharp angles of her eyebrows and nose express anxiety, while the diagonal of her body expresses her repulsion towards the growling beast.


Leda and the Swan Benzi 4057c


Andromeda and the Sea Monster Benzi 1736c

Detail crops of Leda and the Swan and Andromeda and the Sea Monster by Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi.


Venus and Adonis Benzi 1739

Venus and Adonis, Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi, Italian, Florence, dated either c. 1700 or 1715-16, bronze.

On a rocky surface, Adonis lies mortally wounded after being attacked by a boar while his lover, the goddess Venus, rushes in to tend him. Her fluttering drapery indicating that she has just landed, Venus leans over the youth, already seeing death in his eyes. In the foreground, a tearful putto examines Adonis's wound; behind, a putto drags the dead boar with Adonis' hunting dog. Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi closely followed Ovid's Metamorphoses, a classical text that was much read in Baroque Italy. The choice of bronze suggests an interest in classical culture, but the rendition is full of Baroque drama and movement. In particular, the bronze's flamboyant, tragic tone and shallow, frontal composition recall theatrical and operatic productions of the time.

Instead of the more commonly chosen Baroque renderings of the Ovidian story of Venus and Adonis in which the amorous lovers and cupids are set in a landscape with hunting dogs and weapons, foreshadowing the tragic end to the tale; or Venus trying to dissuade Adonis from leaving on the hunt; or Venus discovering and mourning the lifeless body of her lover... Soldani chose to depict Adonis while he was still alive, heightening the poignancy of the moment by having the ill-fated lovers staring into each other's eyes. By doing so, he combined elements of the first and third interpretations, incorporating the tender gestures and positions of the figures from amorous representations into the tragic scene of Adonis' death. The active, expressive cupids and the figure of the dog dragging the boar in Soldani-Benzi's group contrast with the merely ornamental representation of these figures in other sculptures depicting the typical representations listed above.

Soldani-Benzi was known as one of the finest bronze casters in Florence, frequently casting works of other sculptors. These three works are among his few original mythological groups. This sculpture originally formed a pair with a now lost composition: Tancred and the Wounded Clorinda, who were historical figures immortalized in Tasso's epic poem, Gerusalemme Liberata.


Boreas Abducting Orithyia 3969


Boreas Abducting Orithyia HS9532

Boreas Abducting Orithyia, Gaspard Marsy, French, Tours, cast 1693-1710, bronze.

Boreas Abducting Orithyia, after a model by Gaspard Marsy and Anselme Flamen, Paris, bronze.
The half-size, different and less detailed version at right was probably cast in the late 18th century.

Gaspard Marsy's bronze of Boreas Abducting Orithyia entwines three figures in a complex and compact spiral: a small reclining Zephyr, the young but powerful Boreas, whose puffed-out cheeks refer to his identity as the North Wind, and the struggling Orithyia, daughter of Erechtheus, king of Athens. According to Greek mythology, Boreas brought Orithyia to Thrace, where the two reigned as King and Queen of the Winds.

To decorate the corners of Charles LeBrun's never-completed garden at Versailles, the Parterre d'Eau, King Louis XIV commissioned four monumental marble groups representing mythological abductions, each featuring three figures and symbolizing one of the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. This bronze, with Boreas as a personification of the North Wind representing Air, is based on Marsy's preparatory model for one of these statues. Since the garden was never built as planned, Louis XIV commissioned bronze reductions, or smaller scale copies, of Marsy's work and François Girardon's statue to form a pair for his Salon Ovale in the palace of Versailles. The Getty includes two casts of both of these works, in two different sizes.


Boreas Abducting Orithyia 3964 LG

A large (1333 x 2100) image of Boreas Abducting Orithyia by Gaspard Marsy.

Charles Le Brun was the premier painter and designer of most of Louis XIV's major artistic projects, but because of his decline in power in the 1680's and the subsequent demolition and redesigning of the Parterre d'Eau garden at Versailles, three of the four monumental marble abduction groups which were to be placed in the corners of the Parterre were placed elsewhere in the Versailles Gardens (the fourth sculpture was never executed). Bronze reductions of the famous Parterre groups were in demand by the end of the 17th century. The Getty versions of the Boreas and Pluto groups on round bases are two of the finest and most beautifully patinated of the surviving large casts.


Pluto Abducting Proserpine 1800


Pluto Abducting Proserpine HS9535

Pluto Abducting Proserpine, François Girardon, French, Tours, 1693-1710, bronze.

Pluto Abducting Proserpine, after a model by François Girardon, French, Paris, bronze.
The half-size, different and less detailed version at right was probably cast in the late 18th century.

Pluto, represented as a mature man, attempts to abduct the nubile Proserpine, while a maid below struggles to assist her. The three nude figures join together with drapery in a spiral from which Proserpine gracefully extends her arms, reaching out and up in resistance. In contrast to the figures' animated gestures, their faces are relatively expressionless. François Girardon's large bronze of Pluto Abducting Proserpine represents the violent abduction of Zeus and the agricultural goddess Ceres/Demeter's young daughter by the god of the underworld. According to Ovid's Metamorphoses, Pluto was watching Proserpine pick flowers in a meadow when he was struck by one of Cupid's arrows. Pluto carried Proserpine down to his kingdom on a chariot drawn by black horses. This event explained the change of the seasons in Greek mythology: in response to Demeter's grief at the loss of her daughter, Zeus and Pluto agreed that Proserpine, who represented Spring, would spend six months of the year above ground with her mother and the remaining six underground with Pluto, thus causing winter.

Louis XIV commissioned four monumental marble abduction groups to decorate the corners of the Parterre d'Eau, Charles LeBrun's vision for a garden at Versailles which was never completed. Each group of three figures symbolized one of the four elements: earth, air, wind, and fire. Pluto's association with hell made him an apt symbol of fire. The bronze on the left is a version of François Girardon's preparatory model for one of these statues. The smaller bronze on the right is a copy after the larger preparatory model.

François Girardon was the preeminent sculptor for the Sun King, Louis XIV, working on royal projects at Versailles and the château of Marly, as well as in Paris. The four sculpture groups planned for the Parterre were to symbolize the Four Elements in a larger cosmic scheme revolving around the association of the Sun King (Louis XIV) with the sun god Apollo. Girardon's group was associated with the Element of Fire. Girardon studied Giambologna's famous three-figured abduction group Rape of a Sabine and Bernini's two-figured version of Pluto and Proserpine, then created a complex composition which presents a variety of satisfying and informative views like the Giambologna sculpture, and reducing the motion and emotion of Bernini's work to present a more noble, restrained version of the theme in consideration of the decorum of French Classicism.


Jupiter Anguier 1740


Jupiter Anguier 3851

Jupiter, Michel Anguier, French, cast 1652-1700 from a 1652 model, bronze.

By the 17th century, two distinct iconographic representations of Jupiter had been established based upon ancient precedent. In the first, Jupiter is enthroned as the supreme ruler of Olympus, and the second, called Jupiter tonnant or Thundering Jupiter, portrays the deity as the standing God of Justice, presiding over the Earth and meting out punishment with his fatal thunderbolts. Anguier's bronze statuette showing the god posing with a cluster of flaming thunderbolts raised in his right hand is of the second type, but the Classical contrapposto stance and relaxed, venerable expression convey a sense of calm stability rather than imminent violence. The muscular definition and detailed drapery revealed by the open toga enhance the impression of elegant self-assurance. At his side stands an eagle, the attribute that identifies the god.

Michel Anguier was one of the earliest proponents of a classicizing Baroque style in French sculpture of the 17th century. Anguier's ten year period of study in the workshop of Alessandro Algardi, one of the premiere sculptors in Rome, gave him a solid grounding in ancient art and literature. The pose and countenance of Jupiter were inspired by an antique marble in the Palazzo Giustiani in Rome. In 1652, shortly after returning to Paris, Anguier modeled a series of seven figures representing gods and goddesses according to their temperaments: the thundering Jupiter and jealous Juno; tranquil Amphitrite (wife of Poseidon, Salacia in Roman mythology), melancholy Pluto; Mars abandoning his Weapons; and distraught Ceres. There are several bronze examples of five of these deities, but this statuette appears to be the only known cast of the figure of Jupiter. It exhibits features typical of the sculptors male figures, including the compact mass of wavy hair, protruding veins in the hands and feet, and a prominent aquiline nose.


Jupiter Raon 2314


Jupiter Raon 4049

Jupiter, after a model attributed to Jean Raon, French, Paris, model c. 1670, cast about 1680-1700, bronze.

As if in response to a threat, Jupiter, the ruler of the pantheon of Roman gods, turns his muscular body and stands poised to hurl his thunderbolts. Accompanied only by his sacred bird the eagle and loosely covered only by a voluminous mantle, Jupiter focuses his eyes on the distance, lending a rare psychological tension to this unusually large bronze. The artist, possibly Jean Raon, retained the classical contrapposto pose: a relaxed but mobile body with opposed limbs. Jupiter raises his right arm and holds the left on his hip with the elbow outward, standing with one leg forward and one back. Departing from his model, the artist emphasized the god's elegance and idealized anatomy.

This Jupiter appears to be a unique cast and is unusually large for a single figure in bronze of this date. In fact, few bronzes intended for interior decoration were produced in Baroque France until the very end of the seventeenth century, and those that were, such as Michel Anguier's series of statuettes depicting gods and goddesses, were notably smaller than this sculpture. Like Anguier's Jupiter, this was influenced by an ancient marble statue of Jupiter formerly in the Palazzo Giustiniani in Rome, which was published in an engraved plate of the two volume Galleria Giustiniana in 1631. The bronze's glossy patina allows the light to play gently over the figure's cascading drapery and the smoothly defined muscles of his chest and arms. Although the model was made about 1670, the sculpture was not cast in bronze until about 1680 to 1700. Its classicizing style links the work with sculpture made by French Academy artists for French royal residences such as Versailles and the Tuileries.


Laocoon Foggini 2315


Laocoon Foggini 1741

Laocoön, Giovanni Battista Foggini, Italian, Florence, c. 1720, bronze.

Laocoön and his two sons writhe and struggle, caught in the grip of the serpents that wind among their limbs. The father's large size, powerful musculature, and wild hair and beard contrast with his smaller, smoother-limbed sons. As retold in Greek mythology, the Trojan prince Laocoön angered Apollo by breaking a vow of celibacy he swore to the god and then warning the Trojans not to bring the wooden horse left by the Greeks into the city. To silence him, the gods (Apollo, or Poseidon and Athena, or Poseidon, depending on the version of the myth) sent serpents from the sea to kill him and his sons.

Giovanni Battista Foggini's bronze is based on a famous marble sculpture of the Laocoön unearthed in Rome in 1506. The Roman historian Pliny had described this renowned sculpture in awed language, as "a work to be preferred to all that the arts of painting and sculpture have produced". Its celebrity prompted many bronze reductions, or smaller-scale copies including this one, made in Florence. Although it imitates an antique work, the emotionalism and frontality of this bronze are characteristics of the late Baroque Florentine style. This type of tabletop bronze was often displayed on a cabinet where it served as a souvenir of the "Grand Tour", and evidence of its owner's classical education.


Laocoon Foggini 3230 LG

The Laocoön group, in marble, was found in 1506 in a vineyard near the “Seven Halls” on the Esquiline Hill near Santa Maria Maggiore, not far from the site of Nero's Domus Aurea. Pliny the Elder, the primary Roman writer on art who died in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, wrote of this statue that it was the work of the Rhodes sculptors Agesander, Polydorus, and Athenodorus, that it stood in the palace of the emperor Titus, and that it was to be preferred to all other depictions of a similar subject in painting or in bronze. When it was discovered, the statue was recognized from the ancient writer’s description. Julius II purchased it on 23 March 1506, and had it brought to the Vatican Museum, where it became one of the most famous antiquities of ancient Rome and the prototypical icon of human agony. It was a major influence on Italian artists (Michelangelo was called to the discovery site immediately after it was discovered, along with the Florentine architect Giuliano da Sangallo and his son Francesco, who later wrote of the unearthing of the statue), and it continued to influence artists throughout the Renaissance and into the Baroque period. Michelangelo and Raphael used this as inspiration for a number of works. Many copies were made in the Renaissance period (Bandinelli's copy for Pope Leo X, now in the Uffizi Gallery, was often copied in small bronzes), and numerous other copies exist.

The ancient marble group depicts Laocoön (the Trojan priest of Poseidon) and his sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus struggling against the bites of the deadly serpents, sent by the gods after attempting to expose the ruse of the Trojan Horse by striking it with a spear (or in a different version of the myth, after having sex with his wife in the temple of Poseidon, or in another, having made a sacrifice in the temple with his wife present — there were multiple versions of this myth). The Trojans interpreted the deaths as proof that the horse was a sacred object and ignored the warning, bringing the horse into the city and ensuring their downfall. Only Aeneas (son of the goddess Aphrodite/Venus and the hero Anchises) understood the true significance of the omen, and escaped with his family to Italy where he founded Lavinium and his son Ascanius founded Alba Longa. Romulus and Remus, legendary founders of Rome, came from the royal dynasty of Alba Longa, as did the Julian family (gens Julia, or Iulia, as in Julius Caesar), thus the Romans identified their entire existence with this myth.

The raised right arm of Laocoön (and the right arm of one of his sons) were missing from the sculpture when it was unearthed, and Laocoön’s arm was not found until 1906 (in a builder's yard in Rome not far from the discovery site). The Pope's architect Bramante held a contest in 1510 for sculptors to make replacement right arms (judged by Raphael), and the extended right arm seen in Foggini's bronze is a rendering of the winning interpretation by Jacopo Sansovino. Michelangelo suggested that the missing right arms were originally bent back over the shoulder, but Raphael disagreed. When the original arm was found, it was fully bent back in the position which had been suggested by Michelangelo. The statue was restored with this arm in 1957.


Putto Holding Shield Tacca 1827


Putto Holding Shield Tacca 3850

Putto Holding Shield to His Right, Ferdinando Tacca, Italian, Florence, c. 1650-1655, bronze.

Commissioned by the Bartolommei family for the former high altar of Santo Stephano al Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy, this is one of a pair of Putti which mirror each other in pose, but exhibit individuality of facial features, expressions, 'attitude' and the head and arm positioning. Ferdinando Tacca was to provide the two sculptures with inscribed cartouches, and completed the project by 1655, bit is not certain whether they were ever installed in the church. They may have been kept by the Bartolommei family for their private collection, as the bronzes appear in inventories of the family palazzo in Florence as early as 1695.

Ferdinando Tacca was the son of Pietro Tacca, who was court sculptor to the Grand Dukes Ferdinando I, Cosimo II and Ferdinando II de' Medici (Pietro Tacca inherited the workshop of Giambologna and his position as court sculptor after Giambologna's death in 1608). Ferdinando assisted his father Pietro in many of his later works, including the sculptures for the Medici Chapels at San Lorenzo. In 1640, he succeeded his father Pietro as court sculptor to Grand Dukes Ferdinando II and Cosimo III de' Medici, and inherited the workshops and Mannerist legacy of Giambologna and his father Pietro Tacca.


Putto Holding Shield Tacca 4030

Several features of the bronze putti underscore Tacca's later development away from the Mannerist style towards the Baroque style emerging in Rome: the realistic, pudgy anatomy, the animated facial expression, the theatrical gesture, and the dynamic patterns of light created by the folds of he drapery all exhibit characteristics of the new Baroque style. Tacca's outstanding skill as a bronze caster is evident in the precise, masterful handling of details, such as the texture of the feathers and the curls in the hair. The Putto retains the translucent, reddish-brown lacquer patina typical of Florentine bronzes of this period.

In the 1650s, when the Putto sculptures were completed, the interest of the Medici court in sculpture declined, and Tacca’s career was then almost exclusively oriented towards the construction of theaters and other architectural and engineering works. Ferdinando Tacca was succeeded by Giovanni Battista Foggini as court sculptor upon his death in 1687.

Tacca’s pair of Putti Holding Shields were part of the collection of Serena Lederer of Vienna, Austria. The entire collection belonging to Serena Lederer was looted by the Nazis between November 1938 and May 1939, when the Lederers were forced to leave Austria in order to save themselves from persecution. After the war, the Allies rescued the collection from the salt mine at Bad-Aussee and brought it to the Central Collecting Point in Munich. There it was shipped back to Austria in 1947 and then restored to Serena's son, Erich Lederer, by the Austrian government.


Bust of a Young Man Antico 1979


Bust of a Young Man Antico 3241

Bust of a Young Man, Pier Jacopo Alari-Bonacolsi (Antico), Italian, Mantua, c. 1520

Based upon a Roman marble bust from 140-150 AD now in the Hispanic Society in New York City, Antico altered the face by broadening the cheeks and reducing the prominence of the cheekbones, but followed the modeling of the hair of the original marble sculpture very carefully. The hair, one of the most striking features of this bust, consists of a heavily undercut mass of spiraling curls that twist in all directions to form a heavy cap. They are exquisitely rendered with detailed linear striations to indicate individual strands. The other prominent feature is the silver eyes with dark pupils which gaze upward into the distance, his head raised and turned to the right.

Antico got his nickname by his reputation for recreating ancient sculptural styles. This sculpture was most likely a part of a series of bronze heads made for Isabella d'Este's grotto in the Gonzaga palace in Mantua. The fantasy setting of her grotto project incorporated both ancient works and contemporary pieces made specifically for the project, perfect for Antico's style.


Bust of a Young Man Antico 3975

These images were taken in two locations of the museum, under three different lighting conditions.

Antico modeled this bronze bust with a concave, open back, and terminated the bust in a curve just below the nude hairless chest. The chest was covered with a gilt bronze drapery fastened with a fibula at the left shoulder when it was acquired by the museum, but this drapery was likely added when the bust entered the collection of the Duchess de Tallyrand as it was nude when rendered in a lithograph for a promotional catalog of a Venetian art dealer in 1831. The bronze bust of Caracalla in the Talleyrand collection had an identical drapery, so the drapery on Antico's bust was probably added to match the Caracalla.

There has been a tremendous amount of scholarly speculation as to whom the sculptor was trying to portray when he altered the face of the original. The speculation has ranged from a young Marcus Aurelius to a private citizen of the early Antonine period, and from Pompey to Lucius Verus (who was co-Emperor with Marcus Aurelius from 161-169). Isabelle d'Este displayed a head of Lucius Verus in her Grotta as a pendant to a head of an old man, but her inventory does not specify the material or size of the Lucius Verus bust and there is no way of confirming it was by Antico. The subject is still an open question, although there is a marble bust of the young Marcus Aurelius (Museo del Foro Romano 1211) which looks enough like this bronze that Antico may have used it as inspiration for the sculpture. Antico did do at least three other sculptures of Marcus Aurelius at various stages in his life which were derived from ancient sculptures. The central pair of curls over the forehead are similar to this ancient bust.


Bust of a Man Harwood 1672

Bust of a Man, Francis Harwood, English, Florence, Italy, 1758.
Black stone (pietra da paragone) on a yellow Siena marble socle.

With noble bearing, this man proudly holds his chin high above his powerful chest. Sculptor Francis Harwood chose a black stone to reproduce the sitter's skin tone. Harwood also chose an unusual antique format for the bust, terminating it in a wide arc below the man's pectoral muscles. Harwood was familiar with antique sculptures from time spent in Florence reproducing and copying them. He may have deliberately used this elegant, rounded termination, which includes the entire, unclothed chest and shoulders, to evoke associations with ancient busts of notable men. Although the identity of the sitter is unknown, the scar on his face suggests that this is a portrait of a specific individual. This work may be one of the earliest sculpted portraits of a Black individual by a European. Francis Harwood was one of the few English sculptors to settle permanently in Italy, devoted most of his career to creating copies and reductions of famous antiquities to supply to English aristocrats, along with marble decorative pieces. This bust seems to be his only known portrait which was not directly based upon either an antiquity or a contemporary prototype, and it is considered to be his most beautiful and original work.


Neptune and Dolphin Bernini HS9447


Neptune Bernini 3847

Neptune and Dolphin, after Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Italian, Rome, after 1623, bronze.

Neptune, Roman god of the sea, stands astride a dolphin on a bed of waves, lunging forward with his trident into the viewer's space. His unruly hair and beard and the billowing drapery that winds around his muscled figure evoke the sense of a whipping wind over the ocean. The flattened planes with which the sculptor modeled the muscles on the chest, arms, and legs heighten the feel of strength in the figure's movements. His intense focus on an unseen object before him adds a menacing tone. This drama of physicality and motion is characteristic of the Baroque style.

The tabletop bronze is a reduced variant of an over life-size marble fountain group made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini 1622-23 for the garden of the great collector and patron, Cardinal Montalto, in Rome. All of the four known versions in bronze include a long bodied dolphin between Neptune's legs, replacing the figure of a triton who served as a supportive strut on the marble statue, and a rocky base for the shell. Reductions in bronze are unusual in Roman sculpture of the time; the multiple reproductions of Neptune are probably due to the celebrity of Bernini, who dominated Roman sculptural production in the seventeenth century.


Neptune Wurzelbauer HS4560

Neptune, attributed to Benedikt Wurzelbauer, German, c. 1600, bronze.

Despite his small size, this figure of Neptune, god of the sea, has a powerful and imposing presence. He may have originally been the centerpiece for a fountain. In his right hand he once held a trident, now missing, while in his left he holds a conch shell. The artist, probably Benedikt Wurzelbauer, suggests the nude figure's great strength through the carefully articulated muscles on his chest and the veins on his arms. The figure leans his weight on his back leg, arching his back slightly as if fighting the wind that blows his hair and beard. His upraised arms, the twist of his right wrist, and the position of his feet recall dance poses. The high gloss on the bronze and the slight twist in the torso bring out a shimmering play of light on the metallic surface. In contrast to Italian practice, German foundries of this period frequently used wood rather than terracotta or wax models. The rigid treatment of this figure's details, together with its stiff pose and the planar handling of its surfaces, suggests that it was cast from a carved wood model. Wurzelbauer's sculptures combine German Renaissance forms with those of European Mannerism, which reached southern Germany during the second half of the 16th century.


Infant Campagna 1810


Juggling Man de Vries 1732

Infant, Girolamo Campagna, Italian, Venice, c. 1605-1607, bronze.

This bronze infant, with its high forehead framed by piled-up curls bulging at the top and above the ears, his heavily lidded eyes and distinctive heart-shaped lips, his small but aggressively projecting chin, and marked infantile corpulence, is still a graceful presentation similar to many of Campagna's putti and angels. This was the crowning figure of the Altare degli Orefici in the church of San Giacomo di Rialto in Venice, atop the pediment above the figure of Saint Anthony Abbot. In his left hand the child once held an attribute that might have revealed his identity. Screwed into the back of the Infant's shoulders after casting are two bronze knobs, which may have been used for the attachment of wings. Unpublished inventories of the church of San Giacomo indicate that the original crowning infant was an angel who carried in his hand a bell, the attribute of Saint Anthony.

The sculpture was cast in one piece using the lost wax process. As in his other works, the sculptor Girolamo Campagna conveyed a sense of movement through the organization of the figure's body. The boy's torso twists gently while his arms and legs move in opposite directions, suggesting motion rather than a static pose. Girolamo Campagna was one of the leading Venetian sculptors of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

Juggling Man, Adriaen de Vries, Dutch, c. 1610-1615, bronze.

At a crucial moment in an acrobatic juggling trick, this male figure holds one plate perched precariously on the fingertips of his right hand while another plate, held by centrifugal force, seems suspended. Further complicating the pose, the man looks at the ground and steps on a bellows. Dutch artist Adriaen de Vries based the composition of this bronze statue on a famous Hellenistic marble of a dancing faun, which Michelangelo was believed to have restored while it was in the collection of the Medici in Florence. Although de Vries borrowed the original statue's composition, he replaced the faun's foot organ with a bellows and substituted plates for the faun's cymbals.

This work of artistic virtuosity combines vitality and movement with balance. The strong S-curve on the figure's back demonstrates the complexity of his balancing act. The artist may also have had in mind the German word kunststückemachen, which means both to juggle and, more literally, to make a work of art. The use of a verbal conceit such as this one and the exploration of a figure moving in space are characteristic of the Baroque style.

Adriaen de Vries practiced the traditional direct lost-wax process, in which the original model sculpted of clay and wax becomes encased in a mold. The Juggling Man is a variation on a Hellenistic marble, Dancing Faun in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, changed to a juggler with plates standing on a bellows rather than a faun with cymbals standing on a foot organ.


Venus and Cupid Sansovino HS5005


Venus and Cupid Sansovino HS5013

Venus and Cupid with Dolphin, Circle of Jacopo Sansovino, French, c. 1550, bronze.

On a circular base with swirls indicating waves, an elegantly coiffed, nude Venus looks down at Cupid while striding forward. Cupid sports wings and a bow and arrows in a sling over his back. Reaching up to his mother, he balances on a fantastic diving dolphin that has an almost human face. The figure of Venus is a study in contrasts: her elaborate hairstyle contrasts with her smooth flesh, and the detachment with which she takes away Cupid's arrow, now missing, disguises her passionate nature. Scenes like this one, drawn from Greek and Roman mythology, were popular in the 1600s and 1700s in France.

Venus, with her full-bodied limbs and straight-nosed profile, reveals the artist’s awareness of antique models. The turn of her head to the left may have been inspired by the Venus de Medici, however, this figure does not completely follow any prototype. The Venus is similar to the High Mannerist works of the 1540s and 1550s executed by Francesco Primaticcio and Jacopo Sansovino, and finds its closest stylistic parallels in the work of Sansovino, who is documented as having executed two figures of Venus (now lost). No nude works by Sansovino are known to have survived, but his existing documented works exhibit several elements similar to this Venus, and several elements in this sculpture are identical to documented works of Sansovino.


Saturn Devouring a Child 1737


Saturn Devouring a Child 3854

Saturn Devouring one of his Children, attributed to Simon Hurtrelle, French, c. 1700, bronze.

Saturn, the youngest (and leader) of the Titans who descended from Uranus who once ruled Earth in Greek mythology, devours the infant child he holds in his arm. According to a prophecy, Saturn would be overthrown by one of his sons. In response, he ate his sons as soon as they were born. But the mother of his children, Rhea, hid one child, Zeus. Later, Zeus gave his father a potion, forcing him to regurgitate his siblings; he then vanquished his father and ruled over earth, fulfilling the prophecy. Saturn's cannibalism is graphically shown here: in his left hand he holds a bone from one of his already eaten children while he partially ingests the child in his arm.

Simon Hurtrelle represented Saturn as a powerful, yet elderly figure with wings. The wings suggest the speed of time and derive from the association of Saturn, also known as Cronos, with the Greek god of time, Chronos. Similarly, Saturn's loss of hair indicates the passing of time. The composition of the bronze was inspired by an antique Roman marble sculpture which Hurtrelle saw in Rome (which holds a staff, or possibly a sickle, in the other hand rather than a bone).

Simon Hurtrelle took advantage of the new opportunities offered by the Académie Royale to study in Rome. From 1673 to 1682 he was a pensionnaire, akin to a scholarship student, at the Académie de France in Rome. Considered one of the "most capable" of the Académie students in Rome, he was admitted to the prestigious Italian Accademia di San Luca. In Rome, Hurtrelle worked on vases inspired by antique models for the royal garden at Versailles. When he returned to France, he brought back the classicizing style that he would use throughout his career. He continued working in the service of Louis XIV at Versailles, the Château de Marly, and the church of Les Invalides. Admitted to the Académie Royale in 1687, he became a full member only three years later, a remarkably short time for this accomplishment. He worked in bronze and marble, and like many of the other court artists, advised the king on acquisitions.


Male Nude Aspetti HS4926


Male Nude Aspetti HS5018

Male Nude, attributed to Tiziano Aspetti, Italian, c. 1600, bronze.

Tiziano Aspetti, one of the most prominent sculptors in late 16th century Venice, probably originally designed this small bronze statue of a nude male as one of a group of figures to be placed along a balustrade or in a collector's studio (or studiolo). In the 1400s, the image of the nude male and the use of bronze were revived as Italian artists looked back to the culture of ancient Greece and Rome for inspiration. Though its subject is ancient, Aspetti’s work was conceived in a thoroughly innovative style of expressionistic and dramatic movement. In typical Mannerist style, the figure twists elegantly, revealing a play of shimmering effects on the surface as the light reflects off pronounced muscles.

The nude, thickset male figure stands on a circular, integrally cast base with his right foot placed in front of and at an angle to his left. He twists his heavily muscled upper torso vigorously to his right, in a posture reminiscent of some of the figures by Michelangelo and Bronzino. His right arm is held away from the side of his body, his hand lowered with palm down. His left arm is bent up and brought across his chest, and the hand is held in a gesture similar to that of a blessing. His comparatively small head is turned to look over his right shoulder. The details are precisely modeled and finished.


Male Nude Aspetti 2331

Tiziano Aspetti belonged to the second generation of sculptors working in the dramatic maniera (style) which was known as Venetian Mannerism. Named for his uncle, a successful sculptor, Tiziano was born in the Italian city of Padua in 1565 to a famous family of founders. He learned his skillful bronze casting technique in the family business and then studied sculpture with Girolamo Campagna, the most prominent sculptor in Venice between 1580 and 1600. With Campagna and then later on his own, Tiziano contributed to large-scale public commissions in Venice, Padua, and Tuscany. For most of his life, Tiziano worked for one person, Giovanni Grimani, the Patriarch of Aquileia, a distinguished church official known for his collection of antiquities and his patronage of artists. Tiziano restored Grimani's ancient statues and made many pieces for his patron's home. At the end of his life, Tiziano moved to Pisa to live in the household of Grimani's great-nephew, Antonio Grimani, Bishop of Torcello and Apostolic Nuncio in Tuscany. Living near the famous marble quarries of Massa-Carrara, Tiziano branched out from the bronze work in which he had made his reputation and worked as a stone sculptor until his death in 1606.


Mercury Vittoria 2009


Mercury Vittoria HS5024

Mercury, Alessandro Vittoria, Italian, Trent, 1559-1560, bronze.

Mercury, god of science, commerce, and travel in Greek and Roman mythology, was messenger to the god Jupiter. Identified by his winged helmet (petasus), he originally held a caduceus, which is now broken. His raised left foot rests on the head of the monster Argus, whom Mercury killed to free one of Jupiter's lovers. The young god's lithe, elongated body and the pronounced shift of his body weight from one leg to the other are characteristic features of the Mannerist style.

The figure's downward glance suggests that the original work was meant to be executed on a larger scale and to be seen from below. Alessandro Vittoria probably designed this freestanding figure and a bronze Minerva as pendants, both of which he signed. The drapery support behind the figure suggests that the bronze is a copy of a work originally carved in marble and then reproduced in metal. In marble statues a support bears the weight of the piece, but it has no function in bronze statues. The bronze bears little evidence of work after the casting. All the details were worked out in the wax core, attesting to the high quality of the casting technique.


Mercury Vittoria 2040


Mercury Vittoria 3940

This bronze statuette (25.75 in.) is closely related to Vittoria's large stone figure of Mercury in the Doge's Palace in Venice. The pose of the statuette is almost identical (in reverse) to that of the stone statue. The stone statue turns his head more to the side, while the bronze tilts his head down. The bronze Minerva which this Mercury used to be paired with also looks down, and in both statuettes the drapery forms an (unnecessary) support. Both appear to be cast from models which were made for larger stone sculptures. It is possible that they were both from models for other projects (like the stone Mercury), or the Mercury was made from a rejected model and the Minerva was made as its pendant. The mystery of art history.


Mars and Venus Mont 2016


Mars and Venus Mont 1823

Mars and Venus, attributed to Hans Mont, Flemish, c. 1575, bronze.

In this tabletop bronze sculpture, Venus, the nude goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war, tenderly embrace in a union of opposites. Although Hans Mont composed the statue with a dominant view of Venus from the front and Mars from the side, the complex entwining of the figures encourages the viewer to walk around them. Mont reveals the characters' personalities through the shapes of their bodies: Venus curves her elegant long limbs in an unfinished spiral around the more rectilinear posture of the muscular god of war. As is characteristic of Mannerism, naturalism is sacrificed for elegance of composition: Venus' forearms and wrists bend illogically as she wraps her long arms around Mars. While the figures' bodies express their emotional intimacy, their faces remain surprisingly impassive. The sculptor's choice of theme, the small-scale format, and the artist's use of bronze show the interest of artists and patrons in reviving the culture and art of classical antiquity, beginning in the 1400s.

This is an extremely difficult sculpture to attempt to get a good shot of, as there always seem to be impenetrable shadows near their faces. Here, we have several images taken in different light.


Mars and Venus Mont 2326


Mars and Venus Mont HS9163

Though he was born in Ghent, Belgium, Flemish sculptor and architect Hans Mont worked in an Italian Mannerist style in Italy, Austria, Bohemia, and Germany. In 1572 he collaborated with the internationally renowned artist Giambologna in Italy. Three years later he had returned to the north, where he worked as a court artist to Emperor Maximilian II in Vienna on Giambologna’s recommendation. There he created giant stucco figures as well as wall and ceiling decorations. Mont also designed a large triumphal arch for Emperor Rudolf II's ceremonial entry into Vienna in 1576. In early 1580, Mont lost an eye playing tennis and had to give up sculpture. He found employment as a master builder in Ulm, Germany, where he worked on the city fortifications. None of his documented works survive, although several works in both bronze and stone have been attributed to him.


Mercury van der Schardt HS4924


Mercury van der Schardt HS4988c

Mercury, Johan Gregor van der Schardt, Dutch, Bologna, Italy, c. 1570-1580, bronze.

Mercury, son of Jupiter and Maia, was messenger to Jupiter and served as patron of travel, commerce, science, and thievery in Greek and Roman mythology. Johan Gregor van der Schardt shows the young, athletic figure of Mercury, identified by the winged sandals and hat he wears and the caduceus he carries, as he effortlessly returns from flight. Van der Schardt suggested the spontaneity of his landing through the asymmetry of his body: Mercury tilts his head and twists his body so that his right hip comes forward while his right shoulder swings back. Mercury was cast hollow from a wax model. After casting, the hair and parts of the wings and sandals were reworked with chisels to accentuate their crispness.


Mercury van der Schardt HS4979

The divine messenger of the gods turns his head, his gaze following the movement of his extended left arm. A Mercury of the same design and size in the Stockholm Nationalmuseum is signed IGVSF (Ian Gregor Van Sart Fecit, or Johan Gregor van der Schardt made it), securing the attribution of the Getty Mercury to van der Schardt.

The Dutch sculptor Johan Gregor van der Schardt was a sculptor of the Northern Renaissance. The artist spent the early years of his career in Italy, where he studied and copied the famous antique and Renaissance statues and absorbed the Mannerist ideals of contemporary sculptors in Italy such as Jacopo Sansovino, Benvenuto Cellini and Giambologna. He was one of the first sculptors to bring the Italian Mannerist style to Northern Europe, where he earned international fame working in courtly circles in Vienna and Nuremberg.

Van der Schardt either was unaware of or rejected the most famous contemporary rendering of Mercury by Giambologna, which shows the god in flight, poised on one foot and made to be seen from all angles. Van der Schardt's Mercury is based on one of the most  famous of the ancient statues: the Apollo Belvedere or Pythian Apollo, a Hadrianic Roman marble copy of a lost 3rd century BC bronze original by the Greek sculptor Leochares, which is planted firmly on the ground... van der Schardt refined the composition by elongating the limbs, torso and neck of the figure and emphasizing the graceful, swaying lines and harmony of the body in motion.

At present four similar bronzes of Mercury are attributed to Johann Gregor van der Schardt. Until the present time, no other composition of the artist has been identified of which he prepared more than one copy. Most scholars associate the style of van der Schardt with Italian sculpture. The Dutch artist lived in Italy in the 1560's, nevertheless, he set up his own workshop only at a later date in Nuremberg.


Mercury van der Schardt 2336

One of my favorite bronzes in the Getty, the Mercury by van der Schardt lends itself to dramatic angles.


Mercury van der Schardt 4073

In the late sixteenth century, the Getty Mercury belonged to Paul von Praun, a Nuremberg collector who lived in Bologna and assembled a legendary art collection. Paul von Praun was a wealthy Nuremburg silk merchant who acquired the contents of van der Schardt's studio after the artist's death. It included a number of terracotta study models of Michelangelo's work. The unsigned models were attributed to Michelangelo for many decades, and it was only after extensive research and stylistic comparisons that they were identified as having been created by Johan Gregor van der Schardt, a follower of Michelangelo.


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