CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Giambologna: Triumph des Körpers

Giambologna: the triumph of the body Exhibition: 27 June - 17 September 2006

Giambologna, Venus Urania, Astronomy, ca. 1573, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

Jean Boulogne, called Giambologna
(Douai 1529-1608 Florence)
Venus Urania, also known as Astronomy
Florence, ca. 1573
© Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum


Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi, director of the Museo Nazionale del Bargello
Dimitri Zikos
Claudia Kryza-Gersch, Kunstkammer, Kunsthistorisches Museum

From the museum website

The Kunsthistorisches Museum’s 2006 summer exhibition (June 27 – September 17) is dedicated to one of the most important sculptors in European art history – the Fleming, Jean Boulogne (1529-1608), who as “Giambologna” rose to world fame at the court of the Medici in Florence.

It is thanks to the patronage and connoisseurship of the Emperor Rudolf II that the Kunsthistorisches Museum now holds some of the artist’s most beautiful masterpieces, and – considering his importance for the collection – one might call Giambologna the “Bruegel of the Collection of Sculpture and Decorative Arts”. In collaboration with the Florentine Museum of Sculpture, the Museo Nationale del Bargello, it has now been possible to put together a magnificent exhibition almost thirty years after the last great show dedicated to this outstanding artist. It includes works never loaned before, and the exhibits selected bear impressive witness to new discoveries and scholarly progress made during these last three decades. Thus the small bronzes included in the exhibition are almost all outstanding authentic works by the master himself. In addition, it is the first time ever that some of Giambologna’s monumental marble and bronze statues are shown in Vienna.

The exhibition in Vienna focuses on Giambologna’s ideal image of man and his search for the perfect pose. With the help of his statues of male and female deities – who gracefully emerge from their bath, effortlessly ascent heavenwards, or elegantly intertwine to form impossibly complicated groups composed of two or three figures – the exhibition analyses and documents Giambologna’s uniquely elegant ideal figure.

Only a true genius was able to overcome and interpret anew the overpowering example of Michelangelo who had more or less paralyzed Florentine sculpture for over half a century. Soon Giambologna’s style held sway all over Europe and continued to dominate artistic production well into the 17th century. His works have remained sought-after collectors’ pieces until today and are found not only in museums but also in private collections – some of the works on loan from European and American private collections have never before been shown in Austria and have only rarely been loaned for exhibitions; therefore, they represent an outstanding rarity that adds additional luster to this exhibition which also includes wax- and terracotta models.

A scholarly catalogue will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. It comprises essays by internationally renowned experts and scholars as well as numerous photographs of outstanding quality taken in special photographic sessions in the studios of the museums in Vienna and Florence for this exhibition.


Florence, Bargello (1 March-15 June 2006)
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum (27 June-17 September 2006)