Giambologna’s Greatest Marble Sculpture
Carved from a single block of stone, this powerful marble sculpture by the Flemish artist Giambologna (1579–1583) (Johannes of Boulogne), is surely one of the finest works in the history of sculpture. Regarded as a technical as well as a creative masterpiece, the statue combines the classical nude forms ofGreek sculpture with the dynamism of Mannerism. Although, being a work of Roman mythology, it was not part of the campaign ofreligious art used by the Counter-Reformation,The Rape of the Sabine Women perfectly expresses the deep uncertainties of the late 16th century. The actual theme of the finished statue was not determined until shortly before its installation in the Loggia dei Lanzi, in the centre of Florence. It was then that Giambologna finally decided that it should illustrate the legendary “Rape of the Sabines”, an event from early Roman mythology, when Romulus and his male followers were anxiously seeking wives with whom to start families. The local Sabine tribe refused to permit their women to marry anyone from Rome, so the Romans staged a festival of Neptune Equester, invited their Sabine neighbours, and on a given signal snatched numerous Sabine women, whilst fighting off their men. Note that, in this context, the translation of the Latin word raptio as “rape” is misleading, as no physical violation was involved. A more accurate translation is “The Abduction of the Sabine Women”. The actual statue, 13 feet 5 inches tall (4.1 metres), is made from a single block of marble. It depicts three figures: at the base of the statue, an older bearded nude man kneels on the ground, his left arm raise in self-defence; a second younger nude male, who stands astride the kneeling man, holds a struggling nude woman in his strong arms. The kneeling man represents the weak elderly husband of the young Sabine woman who is being abducted by the young Roman. All three are interwoven into the group, through physical contact and through eye contact with each other. The impression of writhing movement is initiated by the woman’s outstretched arms, continues through the muscular figure of the young abductor, clasping the body of his prey, and ends in the raised arm of the dominated husband. The artist’s use of exaggerated gestures, along with his ability to convey a sense of intense energy, characterize his style of Mannerism.
F/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO – 100, Photoshop CS6
Castel Sant’Angelo, one of the most original monuments in Rome, dates back to the Roman period but has been deeply transformed over the centuries. At present, its charming and complex structure is due mainly to the presence of different architectural strata. This is evidence of the sedimentation of historical periods and thus of the prime role often played by this monument throughout history. The origin of this monument goes far back in time and its original function was completely different to that of today. It was begun in AD 123 as a desire of the emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus , Hadrian – to erect a monumental tomb destined to contain the emperor’s ashes and those of his successors. It was finished in 139, a year after the emperor’s death, by his successor Antoninus Pious; it was then used up to the year 217 as a sepulchral for the Antonine family. A specific site was chosen for the construction of the monument. Though on the river edge, it was built on very solid ground and in an area previously used as a cemetery. The monument was then linked to the rest of the city by means of a bridge named Alias, one of the emperor’s names.
F/5.6, 1/50 sec, ISO – 100, Photoshop CS6