The mind of da Vinci, the heart of Giambologna

Spring opening for outstanding Florentine exhibitions

Editorial Staff
February 23, 2006

Florence is gearing to host the exhibitions planned for 2006. A new city policy emphasises the value of offering both tourists and residents regular and important art exhibitions. This has led to the organisation of some notable forthcoming events, including two major shows in March alone. The first, set to open on March 1, is dedicated to adopted Florentine artist Giam-bologna. And, at the end of the month, an even larger show will be devoted to one of the greatest artists of all time, Leonardo da Vinci.


The Giambologna show, called “The Gods, The Heroes”, will be the biggest ever Italian exhibition dedicated to this artist. Housed in the Bargello Museum, it will bring together 100 works - in bronze, silver and marble - from all over the world.


Giambologna (1524-1608) was a Flemish sculptor whose real name was Jean Bologne or Boulogne. Born in Douai, France, he trained in Flanders before coming to Florence, staying here as Medici court sculptor. One of the most important 16th-century sculptors, he was heavily influenced by Michelangelo.


Some of the most outstanding objects of the show are the Bargello’s own Mercury, regarded as the Flemish master’s finest statuette, and the original bronze version of his Rape of the Sabines, a work epitomising the ‘Mannerist’ style Giambologna all but invented. The final, life-size marble version of the Rape is one of Florence’s most admired public statues, perched next to Cellini’s Perseus under the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria.


A group of Venus statuettes that the Medici gave to other European potentates will also be on display. Many of these have come from collections abroad: Vienna’s Imperial Cabinet and Dresden’s Kunstkammer. Another beautiful version of Venus, the so-called Cesarini Venus, has been lent to exhibitors for the first time ever by the U.S. Embassy in Rome.


There are also works from the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, including the bust that was the inspiration for Robert Browning’s poem ‘The Statue And The Bust’.

Equestrian statues, garden designs and fountains, many intended for the Boboli Gardens of Florence, will also feature. And there’s a colossal clay study of the titan Apennine lifting the Earth’s crust, the final version of which is at Villa Demidoff. The Giambologna exhibition will run from March 1 until June 15.


A hard act to follow?  Well, the Uffizi Gallery plans to top it in late March with a mega exhibition dedicated to one of the most celebrated artists of all time, Leonardo da Vinci.


The vast majority of da Vinci exhibitions have tended to focus on his most sensational inventions, ignoring many of his other contributions to art and science. The Uffizi’s show will emphasise these less-noted creations, works that nonetheless contributed to his “universal” genius. “The Mind of Leonardo” will demonstrate how this refined artist, inimitable designer, imaginative inventor and innovative architect was influenced by his times and by common and universal motivations.


These two exhibitions will be among the highlights of a year that promises to offer many more notable events. For more information on the many upcoming exhibitions in Florence go to


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