Chiarissimo Fancelli and the Statua di Vulcano

Chiarissimo Fancelli (d. 1632) was an Italian sculptor and architect of the late Mannerist/ early Baroque period who was mainly active inTuscany. He lived at a time when Florence began to show signs of its artistic decline. He learnt the art of carving and restoring of antique statues in the workshop of Giovani Caccini. Among his early works are two statues for the Cathedral of Pisa which are dated in a guide of 1833 to 1588. This means he must have been old enough at this time to accomplish such a feat. He was called to the court by Cosimo II de’ Medici and commissioned with restorations and creation of own work. His still preserved work includes the Fontana di Mascherone – a fountain/ gargoyle at the corner of the Loggia del Grano inFlorence(1619) – and the Statua di Vulcano placed in the gardens of Palaco Pitti, home of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

The statue, executed simultaneously with other works of Tuscan artists, was an integral part of a complex iconographic theme metaphorically alluding to the figure of Venus (Pizzorusso, 1989). The high quality of the sculpture, which reveals some stylistic similarities with images of Caccini, G. Silvani and F. Palma, attests to the skill of the artist in works of large format and his expertise in the execution of expressions of the face and the creation of smooth, fluid, dynamic hair. After the Volcano, for which no archival references can be found, Fancelli created in 1621 the group Three Graces for the same garden.


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