…was a Renaissance sculptor who worked in Italy and was heavily influenced by Michelangelo. Surprisingly, given his name and that he was responsible for the city’s most famous artwork, he wasn’t born in Bologna. He wasn’t even Italian.
Born in what was then a part of Flanders, but now sits in France he was named Jean Boulogne, so it’s easy to see how the transition came about.
His greatest works have a classical influence, and having his workshop in Florence he completed many works for the Medici, and it is said that Cosimo Medici prevented his leaving the city so that he could be the sole beneficiary of Giambologna’s talent. The Boboli Gardens in Florence were a home of many of his works.
It is his first commission that is most famous to those visiting Bologna. His bronzes are the figures at the heart of The Fountain of Neptune. The Pizza del Nettuno is ordinarily dominated by the great sea-god (though when I visited the citizens of Bologna had chosen to dwarf it with their Christmas tree).
Given the Papal commission that led to its construction I was a little surprised at the female figures around the base, though their impact was lessened by the nipple jets being out of action when I saw it! They aren’t the sole providers of curvaceous flesh however. My guide book referred me to the popularity of photographing Neptune’s shadow as it fell on the Palazzo Communale; I’m not sure of any other significant reason but it does highlight that the old boy has an outstanding pair of buttocks.
One last thing that we should thank Giambologna for; Neptune would be virtually unrecognisable without his trident, it symbolises his power. He had already been protecting the city for over 350 years with that trident when a local car company took it for their logo. Maserati seem to have done fairly well with that power.