The Elector August of Saxony dies in 1586. Florence prepares diplomatic gifts for his successor the Elector Christian. Presents include horses and bronzes.
The Grand Duke Francesco is a great fan of the Mannerist style. Since 1583 the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna (Jean de Boulogne) has been installed in the Loggia dei Lanzi which was and has remained the most sensational permanent exhibition in the world for monumental sculptures.
The Grand Duke's gift includes three bronzes by Giambologna, probably chosen from the ducal collection. Giambologna is at the height of his glory to the point that the Grand Duke refuses him to leave Florence. He will not go to Dresden but adds a bronzetto as a personal gift. The elector thanks him with a gold chain. The four bronzes appear as early as 1587 in the inventory of the electoral Kunstkammer.
For this operation Giambologna chose the God Mars. The model was previously created by other artists. The style is decidedly mannerist, contrasting the great authority of the god of war with his muscular nudity. No symbolic props are needed to identify the god. This theme is not related to the personality of the new elector who had no military ambitions.
The process needed to make a bronze was long but Giambologna probably created this Mars specifically for this project. His superiority over his competitors lies in the quality of carving and finishing. The size unusually small for the artist at that time may be a political desire for not competing with the artworks presented by the Grand Duke.
This bronze 40 cm high mounted on a small wood base is estimated £ 3M for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 4, lot 5. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.