1902 Encyclopedia > Sculpture > Italian Sculpture - 16th Century.

Sculpture
(Part 25)




Italian Sculpture - 16th Century.

The 16th century was one of transition to this state of degradation, but nevertheless produced many sculptors of great ability who were not wholly crushed by the declining taste of their time. John of Douay (1524-1608), usually known as Giovanni da Bologna, one of the ablest, lived and worked almost entirely in Italy. His bronze statue of Mercury flying upwards, in the Uffizi, one of his finest works, is full of life and movement. By him also is the Carrying off of a Sabine Woman in the Loggia de' Lanzi. His great fountain at Bologna, with two tiers of boys and mermaids, surmounted by a colossal statue of Neptune, a very noble work, is composed of architectural features combined with sculpture, and is remarkable for beauty of proportion. He also cast the fine bronze equestrian statue of Cosimo de' Medici at Florence and the very richly decorated west door of Pisa cathedral, the latter much injured by the over-crowding of its ornaments and the want of sculpturesque dignity in the figures; it is a feeble copy of Ghiberti's noble production. One of Giovanni's best works, a group of two nude figures fighting, is now lost. A fine copy in lead existed till recently in the front quadrangle of Brasenose College, Oxford, of which it was the chief ornament (see fig. 20), In 1881 it was sold for old lead by the principal and fellows of the college, and was immediately melted down by the plumber who bought it— a quite irreparable loss, as the only other existing copy is very inferior; the destruction was an utterly inexcusable act of vandalism. The sculpture on the western facade of the church at Loreto and the elaborate bronze gates of the Santa Casa are works of great technical merit by Girolamo Lombardo and his sons, about the middle of the 16th century. Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1569), though in the main a poor sculptor, produced one work of great beauty and dig-nity,—the colossal bronze Perseus at Florence (see fig. 21). His large bust of Cosimo de' Medici in the Bargello is mean and petty in style. A number of very clever statues and groups in terra-cotta were modelled by Antonio Begarelli of Modena (d. 1565), and were enthusiastically admired by Michelangelo ; the finest are a Pieta in S. Maria Pomposa and a large Descent from the Cross in S. Francesco,
both at Modena. The colossal bronze seated statue of Julius III. at Perugia, cast in 1555 by Vincenzo Danti, is one of the best portrait-figures of the time.





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