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Art & Design

Giambologna, River God (The Euphrates; The Virile Age), 1575, Museum Works of Art Fund and Museum Special Reserve Fund

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gallery location RA504.European2

River God (The Euphrates; The Virile Age)

Giambologna Flemish, 1550-1608
River God (The Euphrates; The Virile Age), 1575
48.3 x 43.5 x 31.8 cm (19 x 17 1/8 x 12 1/2 inches)
Museum Works of Art Fund and Museum Special Reserve Fund 44.674

This terracotta figure is a model for a bronze sculpture that Giambologna designed to adorn The Fountain of the Ocean, a multi-figural monument commissioned by Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici for the Boboli Gardens in Florence. In the completed fountain, three river gods crouch below a standing representation of Ocean, each holding a jug from which water gushes forth into a massive granite basin. Distinct from a proposal or sketch, this model was likely created as an object for presentation, possibly as a gift from artist to patron, in gratitude for the commission. Symbolizing the Virile Age, a pinnacle of masculine development, it may also have been offered as an homage to the patron’s virility. The figure projects energy throughout his muscular frame while balancing precariously on one foot. Typical of the late-Renaissance style known as Mannerism, his pose is contorted, creating an impression of confined but exaggerated physical strength.

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