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fortezza da basso

Bronze sculpture in Florence under the last Medici can be admired in the exhibit at Pitti Palace.

Thanks to a targeted selection of works, the exhibition sets out to offer a complete overview giove-con-aquilaof the art of bronze sculpture in Florence particularly in the age of the last Medici Grand Dukes. The school of Giovan Battista Foggini and Massimiliano Soldani Benzi was very famous among the European sculptural schools of the time and thanks to these artists the rebirth of bronze sculpture took place in Florence at the end of the XVII and early XVIII centuries.The exhibition focuses on the commissions either spawned by direct input from the Florentine court or associated with it, starting from works by Giambologna and his school and other important masters of the early XVII century. 'Forged in Fire' showcases over 170 artworks, some of them are on public display for the first time, e.g. 'Bathing Venus' by the Flemish artist, belonging to a private collection.

Visitors can also admire Giambologna's “St John”, which has been specially restored for this exhibition; a group of copies  of classical statues in Buontalenti's Tribune in the Uffizi, that were fashioned in bronze by Foggini with the likely assistance of Pietro Cipriani. Another major homecoming is that of the sculpture groups once housed in Palazzo Pitti in the apartments of the last descendant Electress Palatine Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici.

Among the artworks of Soldani Benzi we can compare his personal version of the Dancing Faun - which dominates the first of  the six rooms on the ground floor in the spaces of the Treasury of the Grand Dukes –  with Foggini's version and  the one made in porcelain by Manifattura di Doccia, the local manufacture which has preserved and handed down the shapes and models of the great Florentine sculpture season in an output which, while admittedly serial, was still invariably of the highest quality.

Many loans from International museums enrich the collection, they are magnificent artworks by artists who are not generally well known, such as “Jupiter with the eagle” by Giuseppe Piamontini coming from the Ashmolean Museum in  Oxford and "The Triumph of Neptune The Rape of Europe" by Antonio Montauti coming from the County Museum of Art of Los Angeles.

The outstanding technical achievement of Florence's master bronze sculptors can also be readily appreciated in a selection of monstrances and other spectacularly rich religious items and in two Crucifixes, one by Giambologna and the other by Pietro Tacca, Giambologna's favourite pupil renowned for giving us the Porcellino, or bronze bear, in Florence's Mercato Nuovo.

The exhibition winds up with a collection of 42 drawings by Soldani Benzi - that were recently acquired by the Uffizi - and with a number of artworks including paintings by Dandini ("Lucrezia" coming from the Giovanni Pratesi Foundation in Figline Valdarno) and by Bimbi, that interact with the sculptures ' vibrant plasticity.


Forged in Fire. Bronze sculpture in Florence under the last Medici from 18/09/2019 to 12/01/2020 at Pitti Palace


Published: 19/9/2019

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