One of my favourite works of art is moving! After 432 years in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria Firenze, Giambologna’s ‘Ratto delle Sabine’ (Abduction of the Sabine Women) is being moved to the Galleria degli Uffizi. In November 2014 the Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e turismo (Ministry of cultural works and tourism) announced that the sculpture would be moving once a reproduction is made for the Loggia and funds are secured for the move. If needs to be moved indoors to protect it from damage caused by pollution, rain, wind and even snow.
The sculpture was carved from a single block of flawed marble. Does that sound familiar? Remember the ‘Il Gigante-Michelangelo’s David’ post?. It features 3 figures intertwined in a ‘figura serpentina’- a serpentine composition. A man is lifting a woman into the air while another man crouches, and what they are doing is not really clear. There is no dominant viewpoint or ‘good side’ to this sculpture. It has multiple viewpoints and makes the viewer want to move around and observe it from every angle. This was probably the first work of art with more than one point of view.
There are 2 interesting things to note about the sculpture’s misleading title. First of all, it is usually incorrectly translated into English as ‘Rape of the Sabine Women’. ‘Ratto’ comes from the latin ‘raptio’ meaning abduction. The second thing is that the subject matter was entirely made up-it was not the artist who gave this work its title! Giambologna had no subject in mind when he sculpted this piece. This was very unusual, but he was trying to demonstrate his ability to create a perfect upward spiralling vortex. He was the official sculptor of the Medici family and you could say he was showing off. When the work was completed in 1583, Francesco I de’Medici decided to put it on public display at the Loggia dei Lanzi. The Loggia is like a large covered porch in the Piazza della Signoria, with 2 walls and 2 open sides. Some guy named Vincenzo Borghini suggested the title and apparently no one could come up with a better one. Am I the only one who finds this annoying?
I’ve had the opportunity to view this masterpiece many times and have even sketched it from different viewpoints. I’m sure a lot of people don’t realize this is still the original sculpture and not a copy! I can totally understand that it needs to be protected from the elements, but once it is moved, you will have to book tickets online, wait in lineups……and you won’t be able to admire it for free on a midnight walk in the Piazza. If you have not seen ‘Ratto delle Sabine’ in the Loggia dei Lanzi yet, there is still time to get to Firenze before ‘il trasloco’-moving day!