Astrology

Giambologna (1529–1608)
Astrology, mid-1570s
Wax on wood base
3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm)
The Quentin Foundation

Location: Enamels Room

Giambologna’s  wax model of Astrology, a generous long-term loan from The Quentin Foundation, is displayed in the Enamels Room, where it can be enjoyed alongside Renaissance bronzes, ceramics, paintings, and enamels from the permanent collection. Throughout his forty years as the premier sculptor to the Medici, Giambologna worked principally as a designer, directing large, prolific workshops that produced his monumental statuary in marble and bronze, as well as the bronze statuettes so highly prized by European rulers. Giambologna’s exquisite personification of Astrology — modeled from tinted beeswax thinned with turpentine and tallow — is a precious record of a moment of creation when the artist arrived at a dynamic, dramatically contrappostal female form.  

This deftly sculpted wax model reflects Giombologna’s training as a young man, when he left his native Flanders to spend two years in Rome studying the work of Renaissance masters and modeling after classical marble statuary. On his return home, he also stopped in Florence, where he absorbed lessons offered by the city’s sculptures. Astrology’s turning movement is indebted to the powerful torsion of Michelangelo’s marble Victory of 1530–34 (Palazzo Vecchio, Florence) while the refined elegance of this wax, so characteristic of Giambologna’s lifelong approach to the sculpted form, owes much to the work of younger Florentine artists such as Tribolo and Cellini. The survival of this wax figure is likely due to Giambologna’s patron, Bernardo Vecchietti (1514–1590), who assembled and preserved a large collection of the artist’s fragile wax and clay works.