By Jennifer D. Webb

Happy Birthday Massimiliano Soldani Benzi!

The Master of Coins and Custodian of the Mint for the Medici Grand Dukes was born on 15 July 1656 in Montevarchi. He trained in Paris and Rome before working in Florence for forty years. Over the course of his career he executed a variety of classically inspired bronze objects including this sculpture from the Walter Art Museum. Here, he depicts Adonis mourned by Venus and Cupids. 

In addition, he modeled a medal for Queen Christina of Sweden which portrays her in the guise of the male allegorical figure of Roma. This “ambivalent” depiction of gender, according to Veronica Biermann, is characteristic of Christina’s commissions in which she celebrates virtus and claims a status the equal “of the popes and cardinals in Rome.”

Soldani Benzi died on 23 February 1740.

References: Paul Williamson Ed. European Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1996): 140-141; Biermann, Veronica Biermann. “The Virtue of a King and the Desire of a Woman? Mythological representations in the collection of Queen Christina.” Art history 24.2 (2001): 213-230.

Image: Adonis Mourned by Venus and Cupids, c.1715. Bronze with ebony wood base, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 

Further Reading: Michael W. Cole. Ambitious Form: Giambologna, Ammanati, and Danti in Florence. Princeton University Press, 2011; Peta Motture. Bells and Mortars: Catalogue of Italian Bronzes in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Harry N. Abrams, 2001.

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