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Mercury taking Flight

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Mercury taking Flight


Rustici, Giovanni Francesco (sculptor) [ULAN info: Italian artist, 1474-1554]


Boscawen Collection








Copper alloy, probably bronze, cast, and chased, mounted later on breccia ball and wooden socle.

Copper alloy, probably bronze, cast, and chased, mounted later on breccia ball and wooden socle. Mercury stands balanced on his right leg on a green and red breccia marble ball. His left leg is thrust out stiffly behind him. His left hand rests on his hip, and his right arm is raised, the hand shaped to grasp a slim rod held roughly horizontally. His head is thrust sharply back, the face turned upwards. His lips are pursed, and his mouth shaped as a nozzle pierced in the centre with a round hole (diam 6mm). In the centre of the figure's back is a large irregular oval aperture (7.8 x 3.7 cm) cast with a rebate designed to receive a closely fitted cover.

Production Place

Florence (place)

Tuscany (region)

Italy (country)

Italian (nationality)

Technique Description

copper alloy, probably bronze, cast, and chased, mounted later on breccia ball and wooden socle.


height: (figure): 47.9 cm
diameter: (ball): 17.5 cm


early 16th Century


circa 1515


bequeathed: Sherek, Pamela 1995 (Filtered for: Applied Arts collection)

Commissioned in 1515 by Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, Palazzo Medici, Florence; Sir Francis Cook Bt, Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey (d.1901); 1901, by inheritance, Wyndham Francis Cook, London (where catalogued by Arthur Banks Skinner); 1905 by inheritance, Humphrey Wyndham Cook, London; His sale, Christie's, London, 8 July 1925, lot 242, bt Henry Harris, London; His sale, Sotheby's, London, 24 October 1950, The Henry Harris Collection, Catalogue of the Celebrated Collection of Bronzes, Sculpture, Paintings and works of Art of the Italian Renaissance, p. 20, lot 106, illustrated as frontispiece; bt Sylvia Adams for Lt. Col. the Hon. M.T. Boscawen, D.S.O., M.C.; Bequeathed by the Hon. Mrs Pamela Sherek, from the collection of the late Lt. Col. the Hon. M.T. Boscawen, D.S.O., M.C. in his memory.

Bequeathed by the Hon. Mrs Pamela Sherek, from the collection of the late Lt Col. the Hon. M.T. Boscawen, DSO, MC, in his memory.


  1. Milanesi, G. (1878-1885) Le Vite de'Più Eccellenti Pittori, Scultori ed Architettori, Florence [page: p. 602]
    [comments: Publ. VI, p. 602]
  2. Skinner, A.B. (1904-1908) Catalogue of the Art Collection, 8 Cadogan Square, S.W.1, London: Metchim & Son [page: p. 136]
    [comments: Publ. p. 136, no. 610]
  3. Christie's (1925) Collection of Objects of Art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, being a Portion of the Collection Formed by the Late Sir F. Cook, Bart., London? [page: p. 54] 7-10 July 1925)
    [comments: Publ. p. 54, lot 242]
  4. Loeser, C. (1928) Gianfrancesco Rustici, London?
    Source title: Burlington Magazine (1928)
    [comments: Publ.]
  5. Wiles, Bertha Harris (1933) The Fountains of Florentine Sculptors and Their Followers from Donatello to Bernini, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press [page: pp. 9, 83-4]
    [comments: Publ. pp. 9, 83-84]
  6. Middeldorf, Ulrich (1935) Rustici, Leipzig [page: p. 235]
    Source title: Allegemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler (
    [comments: Publ. p. 235]
  7. Middeldorf, Ulrich (1935) New Attributions to G.F. Rustici, London? [page: pp. 71-2, 76]
    Source title: The Burlington Magazine (1935)
    [comments: Publ. pp. 71, 72, 76]
  8. Venturi, A. (1935) Storia dell'Arte Italiana. X: La Scultura del Cinquecento, part I, Milan [page: p. 85]
    [comments: Publ. p. 85, n. 1]
  9. Sotheby's (1950) Sotheby's Sale Catalogue, 24th October 1950, London? [page: p. 20] 24th October 1950)
    [comments: Publ. p. 20, lot 106, repr.]
  10. Pope-Hennessy, John (1961) Italian Bronze Statuettes, London
    [comments: Publ. no. 21, pl. 9, entry by John Pope-Hennessy]
  11. Cardi Dupré, M. (1963) Giovan Francesco Rustici,
    Source title: Paragone (Arte) (1963)
    [comments: Publ. pp. 38, 48, n. 21]
  12. Pope-Hennessy, John (1963) Italian High Renaissance and Baroque Sculpture, London?: Phaidon Press
    [comments: Publ.]
  13. Previtali, G. (1964) Vite, Milan [page: pp. 443-4]
    Source title: in Vasari, Vite, Club de Libero (
    [comments: Publ. pp. 443-44]
  14. Pope-Hennessy, John A Fountain by Rustici,
    Source title: Victoria and Albert Museum Yearbook (1974)
    [comments: Publ.]
  15. Gibbon, Alan (1990) Guide des Bronzes de la Renaissance Italienne, Colmar, Paris [page: p. 29]
    [comments: Publ. p. 29, fig. 17]
  16. Caglioti, Francesco Il perduto 'David mediceo' di Giovanfrancesco Rustici e il 'David' Pulszky del Louvre, [page: pp. 80-101]
    Source title: Prospettiva (1996)
    [comments: Publ. Ill. pp. 80-101, on p. 89 figs. 15 and 16 (side and back views).]
  17. The Boscawen Collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Cambridge (Cambs.) [page: p. i-vi]
    Source title: The Burlington Magazine (1997)
    [comments: Publ. Ill. offprint, p.i, figs. Ia and Ib, text p.ii, no.2. (In magazine p. 908)]
  18. (1998) The Fitzwilliam Museum, Annual Report 1997, Cambridge (Cambs.) [page: p. 15]
    [comments: Publ. Illustrated, front cover in colour, and see text p. 15]
  19. Avery, Charles (1998) Giambologna. An exhibition of sculpture by the master and his followers from the Collection of Michael Hall, Esq., New York
    [comments: Publ. xii, xiii]
  20. Robinson, Duncan (1998) The Fitzwilliam Museum 1848-1998, One Hundred and Fifty Years of Collecting, Cambridge (Cambs.) [page: p. 39]
    [comments: Publ. pp. p. 39]
  21. (1998) Art Treasures of England, The Regional Collections, London [page: p. 340]
    [comments: Publ. exhibited no. 281, p. 340]
  22. Avery, Victoria (2002) Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, London: Gli Ori [page: pp. 56-69]
    [comments: Publ. Cat. no. 2, pp. 56-69, 242-244]
  23. Gayford, Martin (2002) Bronze collector with the golden touch,
    Source title: The Daily Telegraph (10th July 2002)
    [comments: Publ.]
  24. Motture, Peta (2003) Large Bronzes in the Renaissance, New Haven and London: National Gallery of Art, Washington [page: 132]
    [comments: Publ. p. 132, fig. 4, in Cole, Michael, 'The Medici Mercury and the Breath of Bronze', pp. 129-53]
  25. (2005) Treasures of the Fitzwilliam Museum, London: Scala [page: 134]
    [comments: Publ.]
  26. Franklin, David (2005) Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and the Renaissance in Florence, Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada [page: 72-3]
    [comments: Publ. pp. 72-3, no. 6, catalogue entry by Victoria Avery]

Other Notes

Mercury was the son of Jupiter and Maia. He was one of the twelve Olympian gods, and often acted as messenger to the other gods.

Accession Number

M.2-1997 (Applied Arts)
(Reference Number: 14009; Input Date: 2000-10-11 / Last Edit: 2011-07-22)

Related Resources


Pharos - Making Art


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