Description & Technical information

Other known cast: Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Skulpturensammlung (inv. no. M. V. 94), h. 11.9 cm, lacking the dolphin.

The surface of the present bronze is finely worked and retains the original translucent olive / reddish-gold lacquers. It is the larger of only two examples known: the other, which is lacking the dolphin, is reproduced by Fritz Goldschmidt in his catalogue of the Königliche Museen, Berlin. As Goldschmidt points out, this model belongs to a corpus of bronzes that are based on the marble group known as The Fountain of the Vintage, begun by Valerio Cioli and completed before 1608 by his nephew, Giovan Simone Cioli. It was probably intended to be placed in the Boboli Gardens (where it is to this day) beside the Fountain of Neptune, serving as a pendant to the Lavacapo. 

The present model is evidently closely related to the Morgante on a Barrelin Paris, Musée du Louvre. Martha McCrory has observed that the seated figure of Morgante is identical to that incorporated in the group of Morgante on a Dragon (or Sea Serpent), which originated in the Medici Collections in the sixteenth century and is now in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence. Payment for casting this latter group is recorded to have been made to Domenico Portigiani (for the figure of Morgante) and to Cencio della Nera (for the Sea Serpent) on 4 February 1583. The facture of Morgante on a Barrel indicates that it was probably made some time after the model in the Bargello, most likely by Antonio Susini. As McCrory remarks, this would be consistent with the hypothesis that the composition was based on that of the Morgnate on a Dragon or Sea Serpent.  Anthony Radcliffe suggested that the cast of Morgante on a Barrel now in the Louvre provided the inspiration for a sugar-paste sculpture of the same subject, which formed part of the table decorations at the banquet celebrating the marriage of Prince Cosimo (later Grand Duke Cosimo II) to Maria Maddalena of Austria, given in the Salone del Cinquecento on 19 October 1608.

Notwithstanding the relationship between the Morgante on a Barrel and the present group, its origins in the studio of Valerio Cioli are betrayed by stylistic analysis and its facture, which is redolent of bronzes produced in Florence early in the seventeenth century.

1.F. Goldschmidt, Königliche Museen zu Berlin. Zweiter Band. Die italienischen Bronzes der Renaissance und des Barock. Erster Teil. Büsten, Statuetten und Gebrauchsgegenstände, Berlin, 1914, Band II, p. 35, nos. 161-162 & pl. 53. Bought in 1902 from A. von Beckerath, Berlin.

2.F. Gurrieri & J, Chatfield, Boboli Gardens, Florence, 1972, fig. 204 & p. 63.

3. M. McCrory in The Medici, Michelangelo & the Art of Renaissance Florence, Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 6 June - 29 September 2002, Chicago, Art Institute, 9 November 2002 – 2 February 2003, Detroit, Institute of Arts, 16 March 2003 – 8 June 2003 p. 212, no. 75 (English edition).

4. D. Heikamp in Giambologna. Gli Dei, Gli Eroi, exh. cat. Ed. B. P. Strozzi & D. Zikos, Florence, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, 2 March – 15 June 2006, p. 253, no. 51.

5. A. Campani, Guida per il visitatore del R.. Museo Nazionale dell’antico palazzo del Podestà di Firenze, Florence, 1884, cited by D. Heikamp in Florence 2006, p. 253, noting that, along with other bronzes from the Medici Collections, it was transferred from the Galleria degli Uffizi to the Bargello in 1865.

6. D. Heikamp in Florence 2006, citing J. Holderbaum, “A bronze by Giovanni Bologna and a Painting by Bronzino”, The Burlington Magazine, vol. XCVIII, December 1956, pp. 439-445, pp. 442 & 445.

7. See M. McCory in Florence 2002, p. 212, discussing the possible interpretations of the history of these two bronzes and citing previous literature.

8. A. Radcliffe in Giambologna 1529-1608. Sculptor to the Medici, ed. C. Avery & A. Radcliffe, Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Museum, 19 August – 10 September 1978, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 5 October – 16 November 1978, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum [see Vienna 1978], 2 December 1978 – 28 January 1979, p. 102, no. 51.

Period:  1400-1600, 16th Century
Origin:  Italy
Medium: Bronze
Dimensions: 12.7 cm (5 inches)
Categories: Sculpture