Purchased at TEFAF, Maastricht from Galerie J. Kugel, Paris, 1997
C. Avery and M. Hall, Giambologna.An exhibition of sculpture by the master and his followers from the collection of Michael Hall, Esq., exh. cat. Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York, 1998, pp. 24-7, no. 8
The present fine bronze is modelled after Giambologna's Fortune. The attribution of the model to Giambologna was made in 1973 by Katherine Watson and Charles Avery. The authors brought to light documents relating to a commission for a group of bronzes to be presented as a gift to Henry, Prince of Wales (1594-1612). These documents confirmed that Giambologna had designed the model for a figure of Fortune, represented as a nude female holding a sail. A group of bronze figures of Fortune, formerly attributed to Danese Cattaneo, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. 24.212.5) and Stanford University Museum, California (inv. 62.235), were judged on the basis of style and quality to be derived from Giambologna's model. It was further suggested that the Fortune may originally have been intended as a pendant to the sculptor's celebrated Mercury. Watson and Avery pointed out that, aside from having mirroring poses, the pair had a conceptual precedent in one of Andrea Alciati's Emblemata, where the figures symbolise the contrast between industriousness and blind faith. The publication of the 1609 inventory of the collection of Benedetto Gondi, in which the entries for the two models appeared together, gave further credence to the idea that they were intended to form a pair.
Giambologna's Fortune appears to develop a theme which was already current in the first half of the sixteenth century. Analagous figures can be found in Northern paintings, prints and coins dating to this period. As early as 1529, figures of Fortunes holding sails had been present in a design by Baccio Bandinelli for his monument to Andrea Doria. On a mid sixteenth-century tapestry produced for the family of one of Giambologna's most important patrons, Luca Grimaldi, there appears a figure of Fortune whose contraposto pose is remarkably similar to that employed by Giambologna. The present model fits stylistically and conceptually with the sculptor's other essays in the standing female nude, exemplified by his Fiorenza and the timeless Cesarini Venus. Aside from the versions in New York, now given to Antonio Susini, and Stanford, there exists a particularly fine example in the Louvre (inv. OA 10598), formerly in the French Crown Collection of Louis XIV (No.68).
C. Avery, Giambologna. The Complete Sculpture, London, 1993, no. 57, p. 136; C. Avery and A. Radcliffe, Giambologna. Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat., London, 1978, no. 16, pp. 70-1; W. Seipel, Giambologna: Triumph des Körpers, exh. cat., Vienna, 2006; B. P. Strozzi, Giambologna gli dei, gli eroi, exh. cat., Florence, 2006; K. Watson and C. Avery, 'Medici and Stuart: a Grand Ducal Gift of "Giovanni Bologna" Bronzes for Henry Prince of Wales,' Burlington Magazine, CXV, 1973, pp. 493-507
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