It is not, and it was not, a common practice to make full size models for statues. But apparently Giambologna, at the time of this commission, was best known for “small” things, and he wanted to immediately silence who did not trust his abilities to work with bigger dimensions.
So he proved himself in large statuary already at the time of presenting a model, et voilat: a giant sculpture 4 meters tall was produced. But how did he do? What techniques and what materials did he use?
In 2013 Art-Test Florence, along with other research organizations and companies specialized in diagnostic applied to cultural heritage, was involved in the campaign designed to provide the complex analyses of the model of the Rape of the Sabines, now at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, with the objective to answer such questions. The model is in terra cruda, i.e. raw clay, having indeed the same size of the marble work, you can admire the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria in Florence. However the model is not identical. Do you want to know more? It is now possible to access all the results of diagnostic tests performed and the history of its restoration. They are now all published by Syllables in the book “It ratto delle Sabine e il suo restauro “. Inside it there are notes on the history of the artwork and on the restoration performed. It is not easy to synthesize the amount of information contained in the volume so we invite you to read it and find out how a simple “bozzetto” is actually a work of refined technical inventiveness. Jean de Boulogne really knew his business.