Giambologna (Giovanni da Bologna or Jean de Boulogne)
Italo-Flemish, 1529 - 1608
Jean Boulogne from Douai, Belgium, better known as Giambologna, was a driven worker, completely focused on his art and the reputation it could bring him. As Simone Fortuna wrote to the Duke of Urbino in 1581: "He is the best sort of man one could ever want to meet, not greedy at all, as one can tell from his being so poor: all that he wants is glory and his greatest ambition is to rival Michelangelo." Despite the possibilities afforded by Giambologna's participation in Italian Renaissance court life, he was illiterate and never fully mastered the Italian language.
This immigrant became one of the most influential sculptors in Italy between 1550 and 1600. He designed elaborate fountains for the aristocratic patrons of northern and central Italy, especially for the Medici, who wanted to incorporate large sculptural projects into the landscapes of their Tuscan residences. In addition to large-scale projects, Giambologna also created smaller scale works in bronze. His reputation among contemporaries derived in part from the wide distribution of his works through small-scale bronzes. His large workshop with its many assistants made these small bronzes and continued to reproduce them even after his death. These reproductions were so prized they were often given as diplomatic gifts to foreign envoys, ambassadors, and royalty.