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Part of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Antico (Pier Jacopo Alari Bonacolsi) (Italian, Mantua ca. 1460–1528 Gazzuolo)
Date: ca. 1500–1505Accession Number: 55.93
Andrea Briosco, called Riccio (Italian, Trent 1470–1532 Padua)
Date: ca. 1510–20Accession Number: 1982.45
Date: ca. 1510–20Accession Number: 2009.58
Date: probably modeled by 1496, cast ca. 1501Accession Number: 2012.157
Alessandro Vittoria (Alessandro Vittoria di Vigilio della Volpa) (Italian, 1525–1608)
Date: 1566Accession Number: 40.24
After a model by Giambologna (Netherlandish, Douai 1529–1608 Florence)
Date: probably 1587–91Accession Number: 24.212.23
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The intimate sculptures shown here were meant to be held and examined closely, delighting the senses of sight and touch. They are a product of the learned and innovative atmosphere that prevailed in Italy during the cultural reawakening known as the Renaissance. Sculptors drew inspiration from ancient Greek and Roman art, as well as from the natural world, concentrating on the idealization of its highest expression—the human body.
Italian Renaissance artists refined the technique of bronze casting using the lost-wax method, which involves making a mold from a wax sculpture, then filling its cavity with molten metal. Once cooled, the surface of the sculpture was worked with tools until the desired finish was achieved. Gilding and lacquers could then be applied to the surface to create patinas ranging from luminous reddish gold to rich brown and opaque black. Gradually, bronze founders learned how to create several casts from the same model. Bronze had been prized as the noblest material during antiquity, and, accordingly, these sculptures were highly valued by discerning Renaissance collectors who displayed them on tabletops and mantelpieces.
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