Offered by Dei Bardi Art
Sculptures and works of art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
Guglielmo della Porta workshop
Bronze, lost wax
39,5 x 35 cm
Figure representing Christ dead, with his head bowed to his right and fastened to the cross. The head totally fallen down onto his chest appears parallel to his stretched our arms. His body is facing forward and only his right leg shows a slight twist to the left, at the height of the knees. The figure is elongated and the anatomical study is outstanding and finished in great detail, with muscles, ribs and veins. His face is worked with great delicacy, showing defined features, with eyes and mouth closed; he has a moustache and a long beard. There are neither signs of the injury caused by the lance into his side, nor other marks of suffering, according to the Counter-Reformation guidelines, suggesting that Christ should be represented without any sign of pain.
The iconography, as well as the proportions of the tall and slender figure of Christ, with the elegant curve of contrapposto, the facial features, the anatomical study and the shape of perizonium, are characteristic of the workshop of Guglielmo della Porta.
While a quantity of objects have been reasonably attributed to Guglielmo della Porta (1515-77), less attention has been given to the distinction of his collaborators. As a result, various artworks have doubtless been given Guglielmo’s signature authorship while they could instead be the workmanship of qualified assistants working from his models and designs.
Rosario Coppel commented, “A comparative study has yet to be made between Guglielmo’s documented works and those of his workshop assistants.” It is this challenge of being categorical about the individual artists in Guglielmo’s circle that the present author adopts as the role of this series of articles concerning the “Gran Scuola” of Guglielmo.
While its implied that Giambologna was modeling and casting crucifixes by 1572 it is certain Guglielmo’s workshop was serially producing them during the 1570s, notable by Alessandro Farnese’s request for “some crucifixes made of solid silver and other gilt metals” for St. Peter’s Basilica in 1569 and by the quantity of crucifixes in various stages of production left at the time of Guglielmo’s death in 1577. His posthumous inventory counts at least 58 examples, finished and unfinished and ranging in size from approximately 22 to 70 cm.
In consideration of the numerous crucifixes in Guglielmo’s workshop at the time of his death, and considering also his elder years during the 1570s, it is unlikely he would have been as personally involved in the production of these casts but rather would have delegated a reasonable sum of them to his assistants. It is further sensible that he may have desired some diversification of his models having devoted his workshop to the production of crucifixes in qualifying numbers and perhaps preferring distinctions among them.