- Inventaire des diamans de la Couronne, perles, pierreries, tableaux, pierres gravées, Et autres Monumens des Arts & des Sciences existants au Garde-Meuble, par les commissaires MM. Bion, Christin & Delattre, Députés à l'assemblée nationale, suivit d'un rapport sur cet Inventaire, par M. Delattre, Paris, 1791, p. 226
- K. Watson, Ch. Avery, "Medici and Stuart: a Grand Ducal Gift of Giovanni Bologna Bronzes for Henry Prince of Wales", in Burlington Magazine, CXV, 1973, pp. 493-507
- Ch. Avery, A. Radcliffe, Giambologna 1529-1608, Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat. Edinborough, Londres, 1978 et Vienne 1979, pp. 69–71, no. 13-16
- B. Jestaz, "La statuette de la Fortune de Jean Bologne", in Revue du Louvre et des musées de France, 1978, XXVIIIth year, pp. 48-52 Ch. Avery, Giambologna. The complete Sculpture, London, 1993, p. 136, no. 57
- W. Seipel, Giambologna, Triumph des Körpers, exh. cat. Vienna, 2006, pp. 273-275.
- D. Zikos, 'Giovanni Bologna and Antonio Susini: an old problem in the light of new research', dans Carvings, casts & collectors. The art of Renaissance Sculptors , Londres, 2013, pp. 194 – 209.
The Fortuna from the Ribes collection is of exquisite quality and one of the most beautiful of the known bronze versions of this model. Once in the French Royal Collection, and delivered to Jourdan in 1796, the statuette was in the d’Artigues collection and remained in the family from the beginning of the nineteenth century – certainly well before 1848. It has never been shown in public.
Documents brought to light by Avery and Watson demonstrate the existence of a Fortuna in the collections of Lorenzo Salviati and Benedetto Gondi, close friends of Giambologna, enabling the subject to be identified as a work by the sculptor, executed for the first time between 1565 and 1570 (see Ch. Avery, K. Watson, op. cit., 1973, p. 502-504). A statuette of Fortuna is indeed mentioned in the 1609 inventory drawn up after the death of Lorenzo Salviati, numbered 1084 and described as an ‘invention’ of Giambologna, cast – like the present bronze – by Susini ‘… A small bronze female figure, its height around 2/3 of a braccio, … by the afore-mentioned Susini … these ten bronzes come from Gio. Bologna’.
Antonio Susini (1558-1624) was one of the most important sculptors and bronze-casters in Florence to have worked in Giambologna’s atelier (1529-1608). Along with his master, he is the most emblematic artist of Italian Mannerism. After training as a goldsmith, Susini was employed in casting and making moulds in Giambologna’s workshop, becoming his most important assistant. After Giambologna died in 1608, Susini opened his own workshop where he made bronzes after his master’s models. These were sought after for their high quality: known for the precision of their casting and the exquisite chasing of their surface finish, the refinements of Susini’s bronzes was indeed superior to those produced by his master.
Among the published versions, the Fortuna in New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. no 24.212.5) and the version in Stanford (inv.no 62.235) are considered to have been cast in the seventeenth century after Giambologna’s model. This subject is rare, and there are known variants showing Fortuna poised on a globe (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv.no.1970.57), or appearing as Venus Marina standing on a seashell, where she holds in her hands the ends of a sail billowing in the wind (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; inv.no.PL5885). The example once in the Uzielli collection in London, formerly in the collection of the Marchese della Gherardesca, reprises this same composition (see Ch. Avery, op. cit., 1978, no. 16). Another bronze depicting exactly the same subject is described in the inventory of the collections of King Charles I of England, in 1640. Given in 1612 to Henry, Prince of Wales (1594-1612) by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, this cast would appear to have been commissioned from Pietro Tacca and is described as: ‘a standing woman with her left hand over her head and the other down to hold a fortune’s veil’ (see Ch. Avery, K. Watson, op. cit., p. 506).
One of the first Renaissance depictions of Fortuna appeared in 1551 in an engraving of ‘Ars naturam adiuvans’, book 98 of Andrea Alciati’s Emblemata (fig. 2). Giambologna may have been inspired by this iconography showing Fortuna in a similar pose, here blindfolded with long hair blown by the wind but with the same swaying stance, standing on a globe opposite Mercury. As Avery suggests, Fortuna seems to have been created by Giambologna to form a pair with his famous Mercury, the first model of which dates to 1563. Indeed, the entries for Mercury and Fortuna follow each other in the 1609 Gondi collection inventory. The figures' body postures seem to reflect each other, their gestures are closely complementary. An association between these two figures goes back to antiquity, a popular theme being the opposition between chance (Fortuna), apparently holding sway over human affairs, and the ingenuity (Mercury) that human beings could deploy in their activities.
The present exceptional cast of Fortuna has all the attributes of a bronze made by Antonio Susini. The Ribes Fortuna can be considered with the version in the Louvre, - engraved with no. 68 from the French Royal collections - as one of the best published examples of this model. Already Jestaz acknowledged the Louvre Fortuna as a cast made by Antonio Susini during Giambologna’s lifetime (inv.no.OA10598; op.cit. 1978, p.52). The Louvre version can be distinguished from our bronze by its engraved irises, whereas in the Ribes bronze the eyes are left blank.This feature appears generally in casts made by Antonio Susini in the late 1580s, after 1587 (D. Zikos, op.cit, p. 196-198). The absence of this detail in the Ribes Fortuna, where the irises are not incised, likely indicates that our bronze may be slightly earlier than the Louvre example. In fact, it may therefore be considered as one of the earliest known versions of this model.
The Ribes Fortuna is remarkable for the superlative quality of the casting: each detail is rendered with great precision. The features of the face and eyes are finely drawn, as well as her ear lobes, the long fingers and the toes with their clearly defined nails, set convincingly in the flesh. Susini’s virtuosity is especially evident in the fine modelling of her hair, divided by a parting at the back and shaped into slender bands of sinuous curls. The chiselling of the evenly wire-brushed surface gives emphasis to the forms of the body and reveals a golden-brown patina, covered with a dark brown translucent varnish.
Bequeathed to Louis XIV by the painter, engraver and architect Charles Errard (1606-1689), first director of the Académie Royale, the present bronze was mentioned as early as 1689 in the collections of the King’s Garde-Meuble. Like Abundance (lot 14), the Fortuna was displayed from 1788 in the Bronzes Gallery of the new Garde-Meuble, designed by Anges-Jacques Gabriel (see the introduction and the catalogue entry for lot 14 for further information). Although the elevation drawing of the south wall by Jean-Démosthène Dugourc (1749-1825) – the architect in charge of the arrangement of the bronzes – shows the statuettes displayed there in reverse (it was probably taken from a tracing), they are nevertheless easily identified. Abundance was destined for the long north wall of the gallery and is therefore absent, but the Ribes Fortuna can be clearly recognised as the fifth bronze to the left of the first left-hand door in Dugourc’s drawing (fig. 3).
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