Jean Boulogne (1529–1608) was born in Douai, in what was then part of Flanders. At fourteen he was apprenticed to sculptor Jacques Dubroecq. As a journeyman, he travelled to Rome to study the famous works of the Renaissance and Classical Antiquity. There he adopted the name 'Giambologna' and met Michelangelo. For the wealthy Medici family of Florentine bankers he made life-size marble and bronze statues. His Rape of the Sabines was given pride of place in the heart of Florence. A reduced bronze copy of this statue is in the Rijksmuseum, along with bronze casts of his Labours of Hercules series. These statues reveal Giambologna’s fascination with the human form: twisted, turning bodies, tense muscles, contorted faces. This Mannerist style was imitated throughout Europe.

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