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The work is signed OPVS IOANNIS BOLONII FLANDRI MDLXXXII ("The work of Johannes of

Boulogne of Flanders, 1582"). An early preparatory bronze featuring only two
figures is in the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte in Naples. Giambologna then
revised the scheme, this time with a third figure, in two wax models now in the
Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The artist's full-scale gesso for the finished
sculpture, executed in 1582, is on display at the Galleria dell'Accademia in
Florence.

Bronze reductions of the sculpture, produced in Giambologna's own studio and
imitated by others, were a staple of connoisseurs' collections into the 19th
century.

16th-century Italo-Flemish sculptor Giambologna sculpted a representation of this
theme with three figures (a man lifting a woman into the air while a second man
crouches), carved from a single block of marble. This sculpture is considered
Giambologna's masterpiece[9] Originally intended as nothing more than a
demonstration of the artist's ability to create a complex sculptural group, its
subject matter, the legendary rape of the Sabines, had to be invented after
Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, decreed that it be put on public
display in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria, Florence.

The proposed site for the sculpture, opposite Benvenuto Cellini's statue of
Perseus, prompted suggestions that the group should illustrate a theme related to
the former work, such as the rape of Andromeda by Phineus. The respective rapes of
Proserpina and Helen were also mooted as possible themes. It was eventually decided
that the sculpture was to be identified as one of the Sabine virgins.