This work is a copy of a famous bronze by Giambologna (ca. 1529-1608), who was born in Douai but spent his entire career in Italy. His art with its elongated forms and curving lines is often compared to Primaticcio's pictorial style.
The little figure was very popular in the 16th century and became a favourite collector's item. It is small enough to fit neatly in the hand, pleasing to the touch and easy to carry. The choice of materials such as patinated bronze, ivory or very hard, smooth, close-grained wood certainly enhanced the pleasure of handling it.
However, although the model is Italian, the use of boxwood or pear tree wood is typical of northern Europe. Wood was often used for more popular subjects or more prosaic styles. The refined beauty of this swimmer is therefore a counter example.
Reproduction in patinated bronze
Height: 26 cm.
Width: 8 cm.
Depth: 10 cm
Weight: 1.735 kg
Origin: Flanders, late 16th century
Museum: Ecouen - National Museum of the Renaissance
Artist: Jean de Bologne (1524-1608)