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Department of Decorative Arts: Renaissance
© 1990 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet
This small bronze was modeled on the marble Atlas on the tomb of Admiral Alessandro Contarini in the Santo in Padua. Two similar bronzes are known, in the Monastery of Klosterneuburg in Austria, which are attributed to Agostino Zoppo. The present work is by the same artist and is a fine expression of his talent. It is the only example of Paduan bronzecasting possessed by the Louvre.
The figure of Atlas on the tomb of Admiral Alessandro Contarini, erected between 1555 and 1558, represents a Turk, a reference to the admiral's victory over the Turks commanded by Barbarossa in 1544. The Louvre bronze is more than just a small-scale copy of the marble sculpture, which represents a standing man, hands on head, clad in draperies and pantaloons through which his torso and his sex can be seen. The bronze presents slight variations: the face is not mustachioed but bearded, the drapery is more substantial, and the treatment of volumes much more vigorous. The piece, therefore, is more of an occasion to depict the male body in a slightly twisted posture that is typical of Mannerist sculpture.
A work attributed to Agostino Zoppo
The original marble sculpture was attributed to Zoppo (or Zotto) by his contemporary Bernardino Scardeone in his De Antiquitatis Urbis Patari, published in Basel in 1560, an attribution accepted by all later writers. Comparison of the Louvre bronze with the two other atlantes at Klosterneuburg shows that the model for the present work can likewise be attributed to Zoppo. Born a little before 1520, Zoppo received his training from his father in Padua and from other masters for whom he worked, especially Jacopo Sansovino (1486-1570). He established himself as a sculptor of repute in his home town, where he died in 1572. Zoppo was both a sculptor and a bronzecaster, making large marble sculptures and small bronzes. This hollow-cast work is testimony to his talent.
Venetian Mannerism and Padua
Technically, this piece shows the excellence of execution characteristic of the Paduan bronzecasters. Stylistically, it displays the elegance and strength of the Venetian Mannerism of Veronese and Titian. This highly sensual figure, whose pose is taken from Michelangelo, demonstrates the influence of Venetian Mannerism on the artists of Padua and is typical of the work produced by the first generation of Sansovino's pupils, of whom Zoppo was one. There is no other work of this type in the Louvre, where it stands as an essential point of reference in the history of Renaissance bronzes.
BibliographyCatalogue d'exposition "Nouvelles acquisitions du département des objets d'art 1985-1989", Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1990-1991
Agostino ZOPPO (Padoue ?, vers 1520 - Padoue, 1572)
Vers 1555 - 1560
H. : 54 cm. ; L. : 20 cm.
Ancienne collection Chavagnac, Ladrière ; acquisition 1987
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