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Statuette - Ferdinand I, Grand Duke of Tuscany

Ferdinand I, Grand Duke of Tuscany

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Florence (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1592 - ca. 1594 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Giambologna (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wax, on wire armature

  • Credit Line:

    Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, The Foyle Foundation Gallery, case 16

This sketch model is apparently Giambologna's sole contribution to the statue of Ferdinand I outside the cathedral in Arezzo. The marble was carved by Pietro Francavilla in 1594 and is signed with the names of both sculptors: Giambologna as the designer and Francavilla as the sculptor.
In 1587 Ferdinando de’ Medici succeeded his brother, Francesco, as Grand Duke of Tuscany and continued to patronise Giambologna as court sculptor. Giambologna responded by creating an impressive series of portraits of Ferdinando, in the form of busts, statues and a life-size equestrian monument.

Giambologna , a Flemish sculptor, active in Italy. Born and trained in Flanders, he travelled to Italy in 1550 to study the masterpieces of Classical and Renaissance sculpture. On his way home, he visited Florence (c. 1552) and was persuaded to settle there under the patronage of the Medici dukes, eventually becoming their court sculptor.

By c. 1570 Giambologna had become the most influential sculptor in Europe; apart from the fame that his monumental statues in Florence inevitably brought, his style was disseminated in the form of small bronze reproductions of his masterworks, or statuettes, which he composed independently as elegant ornaments for the interior. These were used by the Medici as diplomatic gifts for friendly heads of state, and were also eagerly purchased by European collectors as examples of sophisticated Florentine design. They were especially favoured in Germany and the Low Countries and were prominently illustrated in paintings of fashionable gallery interiors there.

Physical description

Sketch-model for the marble statue of Grand-Duke Ferdinando I of Tuscany at Arezzo (the marble executed by Pietro Francavilla). Ferdinand I de'Medici in half-armour; lower part of legs missing.

Place of Origin

Florence (made)


ca. 1592 - ca. 1594 (made)


Giambologna (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Wax, on wire armature


Height: 18.5 cm, Width: 5.6 cm, Depth: 4.2 cm, Weight: 0.4 kg

Object history note

This wax sketch-model was sold by Sir Thomas Lawrence at a Christie’s auction (lot no. 351) on June 19, 1830. It was bought by P&D Colnaghi Co. Ltd for £1 10s on behalf of Richard Ford (1796-1856), a well-known art collector and author of the seminal 1845 travel book, Handbook for Spain. Through familial descent it came into the personal collection of Sir Brinsley Ford, Chairman of the National Art Collection Fund (1975-80), who loaned it to the V&A in 1970. When Sir Brinsley Ford died in 1999, the statuette was transferred in lieu of Inheritance Tax, with approval from HM Government, and allocated to the V&A in 2002.

Historical significance: This sketch model or pensiero is probably Giambologna's sole contribution to the marble statue of Ferdinando I de’ Medici outside the cathedral in Arezzo. The features, though much simplified, are unmistakably those of the Grand Duke, with the upward sweep of the of the hair above the forehead especially characteristic. The model is set on what is seemingly its original metal support and displays the same articulation and confident command of movement present in many of Giambologna’s works. One leg is missing below the ankle, and the other below the shin, but the skirt that is worn beneath the cuirass leaves no doubt that, like the final Arezzo statue, the weight was originally borne on the right leg, while that at Pisa is borne on the left. The axis of the body likewise conforms to the Arezzo figure, as the left shoulder is slightly higher than the right, and the relationship between the missing arms must therefore have been similar.

Like the marble statue at Arezzo, the strong diagonal movement of the belt over the right hip is also present on the wax pensiero and the uncertain modelling over the left hip seems already to imply the presence of a cloak. Moreover, the wax has also been deliberately elongated to establish the disegno and convey an effect of elegance which can be seen in the final version. If this wax were merely an unrecorded sketch-model by Giambologna, that would be remarkable enough, but not only does it confirm the evidence of the sources and of the statues themselves, it also indicates that the Arezzo statue was fully designed by Giambologna, while that at Pisa, which evolved from the same model, was not. Francavilla may have produced a larger model in terracotta, based on Giambologna’s wax, similar to one surviving in the Louvre for the statue at Pisa.

Historical context note

In 1587 Ferdinando de’ Medici succeeded his brother, Francesco, as Grand Duke of Tuscany and continued to patronise Giambologna as court sculptor. Giambologna responded by creating an impressive series of portraits of Ferdinando, in the form of busts, statues and a life-size equestrian monument. Amongst the first pieces carried out were two portrait statues in marble, one for each for the major provincial cities of Tuscany, Arezzo and Pisa. These two monumental works, for the Piazza del Duomo at Arezzo and the Lungarno at Pisa, were both designed by Giambologna but later executed by Pietro Francavilla in 1594. In designing both compositions, Giambologna contributed notably to a class of civic statuary that had only been recently invented, the armoured figure of a ruler to stand in city squares (Avery, 1987)

The status of the statue at Arezzo appears to have been rather different from that at Pisa, for various reasons. First of all, it is listed in Baldinucci’s Life of Giovanni Bologna, while that at Pisa is not. The reference occurs when described the memorial chapel designed by the artist in the Annunziata and reads, ”intagliò la statua di marmo del Granduca Ferdinando per collocasi nella Piazza della Città d’Arrezzo” (Baldinucci, 1688. p.131). Secondly, unlike that at Pisa, the Arezzo statue bears an inscription highlighting both sculptors' roles: MDXCIIII/IOANNES BONONIA I/PETRVS FRANCAVILLA BELGIAE F. An ‘I’ for ’Invenit’ denoting Giambologna as the designer, and an ‘F’ for ’Fecit’ signifying Francavilla as the carver. In addition, the pose of Ferdinando at Arezzo seems more sophisticated, with the upper arms extended outwards from the shoulders to form a kind of triangle which is complemented by the inward movement of the baton and left forearm. Conversely, the statue at Pisa suffers from much heavier articulation and a noticeably more bloated form, making the Duke appear less elegant in his stance. It has thus been proposed that the statue at Arezzo was wholly designed by Giambologna but carved by Francavilla, while that at Pisa was freely adapted by Francavilla from an antecedent design by Giambologna (Radcliffe, 1978).

Descriptive line

Statuette, wax, model of Ferdinando I de' Medici, by Giovanni Bologna, known as Giambologna (1529-1608), Italy (Florence), about 1592-1594

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Avery, Charles, Studies in Italian Sculpture London: Pindar, 2001. pp.176-182

Avery, Charles, Giambologna. The Complete Sculpture, Oxford: Phaidon, 1987. pp169-171 Cat ill. 201 ISBN 714880264

Avery, Charles, and Radcliffe, Anthony, eds. Giambologna 1529-1608: Sculptor to the Medici, London: Arts Council, 1978. pp.226 Cat ill. 239 ISBN 0728701804

Pope-Hennessy, John, "Giovanni Bologna and the Marble Statues of the Grand-Duke Ferdinand I", in: Burlington Magazine,CXII Vol II, 1970, pp.304-7

Avery, Charles, "Giambologna's sketch-models and his technique", In: The Connoisseur, CLXXXIX Sept 1978.

Baldinucci, Filippo, Notes from the Professors of Drawing, Vol III, Florence 1688 (pub. 1820), p.131
Williamson, Paul, ‘Recent Acquisitions (2000-06) of sculpture at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London’, in: The Burlington Magazine, CXLVIII, December, 2006, p. 891, fig XI
Avery, Charles, Anthony Radcliffe, Joanna Drew, Giambologna 1529-1608: Sculptor to the Medici, London: Art Council, 1978.

Labels and date

This small model may have been the only contribution that Giambologna made to the statue of Ferdinando I outside the cathedral at Arezzo. The marble was carved by Pietro Francavilla in 1594 and is signed with the names of both sculptors: Giambologna the designer and Francavilla the sculptor. [15/12/1995]




Ph_survey; Portraits; Sculpture

Production Type



Sculpture Collection

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