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Famous Italian Statues: 35 Icons of Italy’s Cultural Legacy

Famous Italian sculptures hold a distinguished place in the annals of art history, particularly those crafted from marble—a medium cherished for its timeless beauty and enduring elegance. Among the most renowned marble sculptures are housed within the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Rome. These masterpieces, created by leading Italian sculptors, depict subjects ranging from religious figures like the Virgin Mary to historical icons such as Roman emperors like Marcus Aurelius.

The marble sculptures found in locations like the Piazza del Campidoglio and the Capitoline Hill showcase the craftsmanship and artistry of Italian sculptors across generations. Notable works like “Laocoön and His Sons” and the intricate statues in the Loggia dei Lanzi demonstrate the skill of both male and female artists in sculpting the human form from marble and other materials. The Accademia Gallery stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Italian sculptural projects, preserving Mary’s face and other celebrated works for generations to come.

Italy, rich in art and culture, is renowned for its influential statues from ancient to Renaissance periods, each representing its era and creator’s ingenuity. Join us, local architects, to explore Italy’s exceptional statues, where art and history merge in marble and bronze.

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1. Famous Sculptors and Statues

"La Pietà," by Michelangelo
Pietà Photo By Stanislav Traykov

Rome stands as a testament to the genius of famous Italian sculptors whose masterpieces grace the city’s streets and galleries. Michelangelo Buonarroti‘s “David,” carved from white marble, stands as a symbol of Renaissance artistry in the Galleria dell’Accademia, while his “Pieta” in St. Peter’s Basilica epitomizes divine beauty.

Antonio Canova’s “Apollo and Daphne” mesmerizes viewers with its intricate depiction of a mythological tale, housed in the Vatican Museums. Giuseppe Sanmartino’s “San Carlone,” sculpted from other materials, looms large as the world’s tallest statue in the city. Marcus Aurelius, depicted in equestrian form in the public domain, reflects the Roman emperors.

The Trojan priest Laocoön’s struggle, immortalized in sculpture, captivates audiences in the Vatican Museums. Across Rome, from the Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s collection to public squares, these renowned sculptures reaffirm Italy’s status as a beacon of artistic excellence.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Apollo and Daphne Photo by Architas

“Apollo and Daphne” (Italian: Apollo e Dafne) sculpted by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is a masterpiece of Baroque collection of magnificent sculptures. Created between 1622 and 1625, it is renowned as one of the most iconic works of the Baroque era.

This Italian statue’s significance lies in its depiction of Apollo’s smooth skin contrasting with Daphne’s skin-covered limbs, as well as the dynamic poses that convey tension and movement. Bernini’s mastery in sculpting dramatic narratives is evident in this work.

This statue serves as a testament to Bernini’s skill in capturing complex emotions and stories in marble, highlighting the Baroque emphasis on theatricality and emotional expression. It portrays the moment when Daphne transforms into a laurel tree to escape from Apollo.

Michelangelo

Moses Photo by Livioandronico2013

“Moses,”(Italian: Mosè) created by Michelangelo during the Italian High Renaissance (around 1513-1515), is a renowned statue found in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome.

It portrays Moses seated, holding the tablets of the law and grasping his beard. This Italian statue is notable for its lifelike details, including Moses’s flowing beard and well-defined muscles, as well as intricately sculpted drapery.

Viewers have been captivated by the emotional intensity and realism of this work for centuries, often interpreting it as a representation of Moses’s inner turmoil and anger upon witnessing his people worshiping the golden calf after descending from Mount Sinai.

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Gian Lorenzo Bernini

The Rape of Proserpine Photo By Alvesgaspar

“The Abduction of Proserpina” (Italian: Rapimento di Proserpina) is a Baroque marble statue created by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the early 1620s in his early work years.

This Italian statue depicts Pluto holding Proserpina aloft and capturing her in his arms, with her marble head symbolizing the boundary between the underworld and the world above.

The myth of Proserpina represents the changing seasons, as she spends half the year in the realm of the dead with Pluto and the other half with her mother Ceres, giving rise to the cycle of spring and winter.

Bartolomeo Ammannati

Fontana del Nettuno Photo By Wikibusters

Bartolomeo Ammannati (1511 – 1592) was an Italian architect and sculptor who crafted the Fountain of Neptune (Italian: Fontana del Nettuno) in the city of Florence, Italy.

Originally commissioned for the wedding celebration of Francesco I de’ Medici and Joanna dates back to the 16th century, this fountain and its sculptures feature a magnificent marble statue of Neptune, the Roman god of the seas, at its center.

Neptune is depicted in a commanding and regal pose, standing atop a chariot drawn by sea horses.

This Italian statue exudes power and authority, symbolizing the might associated with the sea. The “Fountain of Neptune” is a prominent example of the collection of statues and craftsmanship, highlighting the era’s attention to detail and reverence for classical mythology.

2. Historical Periods

St. Peter's Basilica Design
St. Peter’s Basilica Interior Design

Famous Italian sculptors have left an indelible mark across historical periods, shaping the artistic landscape of Rome and beyond. In the first century, sculptures like Marcus Aurelius on horseback epitomized Roman grandeur, now housed in the Capitoline Museums.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a leading sculptor in the Baroque era, adorned the city with masterpieces such as “Veiled Christ” and “Apollo and Daphne” in the Galleria Borghese. Leonardo da Vinci‘s influence stretched beyond his time, reflected in the biblical hero sculptures commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. From the Loggia dei Lanzi to the Palazzo Vecchio, Italian sculpture continues to enchant the world, transcending historical boundaries.

The Italian statues have a rich history spanning centuries, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of art. Let’s have an exciting journey through the collection of statues during time and explore the significant periods and remarkable transformations that have shaped Italian art and Italian statues.

Prehistoric

National Museum of Romanian History
National Museum of Rome photo by Jorge Láscar

Italy boasts a compelling history of prehistoric statues dating back to the Paleolithic period. This era began approximately 2.6 million years ago and ended around 10,000 years ago. Prehistoric Italian statues, primarily decorative in nature, were crafted using materials such as stone, bone, and other natural substances.

Some of the intriguing prehistoric magnificent statues in Italy include:

See also  Italian Sculpture

Statue Menhir

Detail of Statue menhir
Statue menhir Photo By Pablomartrod

The “Menhir Statue” is a type of standing stone statue that has been survived and emerged in late Neolithic Europe. These Italian statues are carved from a single vertical slab or column intricately shaped to resemble a human figure.

These types of statues represent distinct features such as faces and sometimes even indications of clothing or weaponry. It is believed that Menhirs served various purposes within their respective cultures. 

They might have been used for religious or spiritual practices, as markers or memorials for events or important individuals, or even as symbols of social status or power.

The precise meanings and functions of these magnificent statues can vary depending on the archaeological context and the cultural beliefs of the societies that created them.

Venus of Savignano

Detail of Savignano Venus
Venus of Savignano Photo By Wikimedia

The “Venus of Savignano” (Italian: Venere di Savignano) is a notable prehistoric artifact in the form of a small statue. This Italian statue of Venus is made from soft green stone, specifically serpentine, and was discovered in 1925 in the province of Modena, Italy.

What distinguishes the Venus of Savignano is its historical significance and representation of prehistoric art. With a height of approximately 22.5 centimeters, this statue of Venus is considered one of the larger statues found from that era.

In terms of age, the Savignano Nymph is estimated to dates back to the Paleolithic period, around 25,000 to 20,000 years ago. This places it among the rich and early creative symbols of human civilization, serving as a window into the distant past.

Etruscans

Etruscans Architecture Cività di Bagnoregio

Etruscan (9th to 1st Century BCE) sculptors often worked with terracotta, a type of fired clay. They crafted intricate statues, prominent reliefs, and architectural decorations using this material.

Etruscan art was heavily influenced by Greek art but also had its unique characteristics. Survived Etruscan statues serve as a vital sign to reconstructing their history since there are few detailed written records about them.

In the following, we will mention a few examples of Etruscan’s most famous statues.

Chimera of Arezzo

Chimera of Arezzo Photo By Lucarelli

The “Chimera of Arezzo” (Italian: Chimera di Arezzo) is considered one of the largest examples of Etruscan art, dates back to around 400 years before the Common Era (BCE). This bronze statue depicts a mythical creature with multiple heads, measuring approximately 78.5 centimeters in height and 129 centimeters in length.

The Chimera of Arezzo portrays a legendary fire-breathing creature and provides valuable insights into Etruscan art, religion, and culture. This statue, known for its mastery of form, technique, and symbolism, stands as a lasting testament to the skill and complexity of Etruscan civilization.

Apollo of Veii

Apollo of Veii Photo By Sailko

The “Apollo of Veii” is a life-sized, polychrome terracotta statue of Apollo created in the Etruscan style, dating back to around 510-500 BCE. The artistic style of the Italian statue Apollo of Veii reflects the prevalent Etruscan art style of the late 6th century BCE.

This Italian statue showcases a high level of artistic expression and is considered a significant example of Etruscan art.

 The Orator

The Orator Photo By corneliagraco

The “Arringatore” statue (Italian: Arringatore) is an important Etruscan bronze statue that dates back from the late 2nd or early 1st century BCE. This statue, believed to represent Aule Meteli, an Etruscan senator, was discovered near a lake in the province of Perugia, Italy.

It stands at a height of 179 centimeters and depicts an individual with distinctive details, such as boots.

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Ancient Era

Temple of Hera Greece
Temple of Hera (Temple of Juno) , Photo by NorbertNagel

Ancient Italy has a rich history of statues and sculptures, encompassing various civilizations, including the collection of Etruscans and Romans. Statues played a significant role in these societies and served various purposes, including religious worship, commemorations, and political propaganda.

Statues during ancient times in Italy were heavily influenced by Greek art, producing magnificent works that depicted mythological figures and real-life portraits. Marble, a commonly used material of that era, allowed for intricate details and complex poses to be easily portrayed. Famous statues of this era include:

Apollo Belvedere

Apollo Belvedere Photo By Dennis Jarvis

The Apollo Belvedere (Italian: Apollo del Belvedere) is a famous marble statue from the Roman era, believed to have been created by the Greek sculptor Leochares dates back to around 120-140 AD.

This statue depicts the Greek god Apollo as a standing archer who has just released an arrow. It is admired for its dynamic pose and intricate contrapposto, which is the balance of the body’s different parts.

The statue also showcases the detailed portrayal of Apollo’s muscles and flowing hair, making it highly acclaimed in the world of art.

Capitoline Wolf

Capitoline Wolf Photo By Merulana

The Capitoline Wolf (Italian: Lupa Capitolina) is an ancient bronze statue depicting a she-wolf nurturing two human infants named Romulus and Remus. This statue symbolizes the legendary founding of Rome, where the twins were rescued and raised by a she-wolf.

The she-wolf statue serves as a powerful representation of detailed maternal care and the mythical roots of Rome. Its origins and age are a subject of debate among researchers. Some attribute it to an Etruscan sculptor from the 5th century BCE, while the addition of the wolf may date back to the late 15th century CE.

The Capitoline Wolf is on display in the Capitoline Museums in Rome and stands as an enduring symbol of the city’s legendary beginnings.

Laocoon group

 Laocoön and His Sons Photo By Marie-Lan Nguyen 

The Laocoön and His Sons (Italian: Gruppo del Laocoonte) a renowned ancient statue, portrays Trojan priest Laocoön and his children facing a sea serpent attack in detail. 

Crafted by three Greek sculptors – Agesander, Athenodoros, and Polydorus from Rhodes, this Italian statue is celebrated for its dramatic composition and intense emotions. Its origin, whether original or a copy, remains uncertain.

Standing just over 2 meters tall,  it’s a prime Hellenistic art piece on display in the Vatican Museums, showcasing the sculptors’ skill and storytelling abilities covered in its dimensions.

See also  Italian Paintings

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aureliu

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aureliu Photo By Burkhard Mücke

The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius (Italian: Statua equestre di Marco Aurelio) is an ancient Roman bronze statue located on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy.

This 4.24-meter-tall Italian statue depicts Marcus Aurelius mounted on a horse with a powerful and majestic gesture. This horse and statue’s dimensions and significance lie in its rarity as one of the few surviving bronze statues of a Roman Emperor from pre-Christian times in Italy.

While the original statue is displayed in the Capitoline Museums, there is a replica in the Piazza del Campidoglio. Its mistaken identification as Constantine the Great likely contributed to its preservation over the ages.

This iconic artwork has also influenced subsequent horse scrlptrres and is depicted on coins, emphasizing its cultural importance.

In the post-Etruscan era, during the Byzantine period, the artistic style and statues leaned more towards religious themes in Italy.

The Middle Ages, so called Medieval era, which spans from about the 5th to 15th centuries AD, can be divided into different important eras in detail.

See also  Italian Contemporary Artists

Byzantine

Church of San Vitale
Basilica of San Vitale Photo by Petar Milošević

During the Byzantine era (4th to 8th century), Italian art and architecture were heavily influenced by Byzantine culture. One significant aspect of the Byzantine era was the use of symbolism. Byzantine sculptors often utilized symbolic imagery and settings to convey religious themes.

The byzantine era in Italy is renowned for its emphasis on religious subjects and its distinctive style that evolved over centuries in different sculptures. However, it’s essential to note that Byzantine art primarily focused on two-dimensional artworks like mosaics, icons, and wall paintings, with statues being relatively less common.

Nevertheless, there are some examples of famous statues from the Byzantine period in Italy.

Horses of Saint Mark

Horses of Saint Mark Photo By Tteske

The Horses of Saint Mark (Italian: Cavalli di San Marco) are bronze and copper statues of four horses originally part of a historical monument depicting a quadriga in Italy. The exact origin and creators of these horses remain a subject of debate among scholars.

These Italian statues were taken from Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and placed on the facade of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. They were later looted by Napoleon in 1797 but returned to Venice in 1815.

Romanesque

Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio (Milano)
Detail of Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio Photo by Carlo Dell’Orto

The Romanesque (6th to 11th century) period in Italy, dates back to the 6th to the 11th century and is characterized by a distinctive style in art and architecture. While the Romanesque era is more famous for its architectural achievements, there are still notable examples of Italian statues from this period in Italy. Here are a few famous statues in Italy.

Smiling St. Zeno

Laughing Saint Zenone Photo By David Monniaux

The “Laughing Saint Zenone” (Italian: San sorridente Zenone) refers to a unique and intriguing statue found on the exterior façade of San Zeno Maggiore in Verona, Italy. This Italian statue portrays a face with an exaggerated and cheerful expression that evokes laughter.

The “Laughing Saint Zenone” statue is a notable example of how Romanesque artists used expressive forms and symbolic imagery to convey religious narratives. This element of human emotion adds depth to the intricate sculptural embellishments of the church, making it a distinctive and memorable feature for visitors to explore and interpret.

Gothic

Stifterfiguren
Margrave Ekkehard II and Uta Photo by Linsengericht

The Gothic period (12th to 16th century), which dates back from the 12th to the 16th century, is an era known for its tall and beautiful structures, pointed arches, intricate stained glass windows, nature-inspired Italian statues, and emotionally expressive artworks. Some of the most famous statues include:

Pulpit of Sant’ Andrea, Pistoia, Giovanni Pisan

Pulpit of St. Andrew Photo By Sailko

Built by Nicola Pisano in the mid-13th century, the marble pulpit in the Baptistery of Pisa (Italian: pulpito della Chiesa di Sant’Andrea di Pistoia) features intricate carvings of biblical scenes and is considered a masterpiece of Gothic statues in Italy.

These highly complex scenes are often referred to as “Porto-Renaissance” and incorporate elements from ancient Roman sarcophagi and other sources to create a style that marks an early revival of classical statues in Italy.

 However, they retained elements of Gothic painting and drew inspiration from sources such as French stone and ivory carvings.

Statue of St. Peter

Statue of Saint Peter Photo By Sailko

The Statue of Saint Peter (Italian: Statue de Saint-Pierre), created by Arnolfo di Cambio around 1300 from marble, is an important and symbolic piece of religious statue collection. This statue is located in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, Rome

Saint Peter is one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and a prominent figure in Christianity, portrayed in this statue with dignity and reverence. He is a symbol of Saint Peter the first Pope of the Catholic Church.

Madonna and Child 

"Madonna and Child" statue
Madonna and Child Photo By Joanbanjo

The sculpture “Madonna and Child” (in Italian: Madonna del Colloquio) from the Cathedral of Pisa is an example of Gothic art. This piece was likely created by an unknown artist during the height of the Gothic period, possibly in the 13th or 14th century.

The statue depicts the Virgin Mary, possibly holding the infant Jesus in her arms, with an emphasis on natural proportions and graceful forms. The emotional depth of the statue evokes a sense of tenderness and intimacy between the mother and child.

Overall, the “Madonna and Child” statue reflects the artistic sensitivities of the Gothic era and emphasizes the creation of a spiritual and emotional connection between the viewer and the divine.

“All that counts in life is intention.”

Andrea Bocelli

Renaissance

Exploring Italian Renaissance Art
“The School of Athens” by Raphael  

During the Renaissance period (15th and 16th centuries) in Italy, significant changes occurred in the collection of paintings, culture, and intellectual pursuits by artists. This era witnessed remarkable advancements in various fields, including statues, as it shifted towards humanism, scientific observations, and a renewed interest in classical aesthetics.

One of the notable aspects of this period was the creation of prominent statues and architectural statues using materials such as bronze and marble.

These famous statues gained immense popularity for their artistic excellence and classical beauty.

Let’s enjoy seeing some of the most famous Italian statues of this era.

Christ and St. Thomas  

Christ and St. Thomas  Photo By Melancholia_i 

The statue of Christ and Saint Thomas (Italian: Incredulità di san Tommaso) is a bronze statue by Andrea del Verrocchio that depicts the moment when the apostle Thomas touches the wounds of Christ and doubts the resurrection of Jesus.

Created between 1467 and 1483, the statue is known for its realism and the contrast between Christ’s calm demeanor and Thomas’ doubt.

This Italian statue was originally intended for an exterior niche in the Orsanmichele building in Florence but is now housed in a museum.

The narrative and artistic importance of this statue has made it a remarkable example of an Italian statue collection.

David Michelangelo

Statue of David
David Photo By Commonists

David statue by Michelangelo, located in Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy depicts the biblical hero preparing to battle Goliath in detail. Carved from a single block of marble between 1501 and 1504, this sculpture showcases Michelangelo’s exceptional attention to anatomy, idealized beauty, technical skill, and artistic mastery.

Standing over 5.17 meters tall, “David” is known for its intricate details, balanced proportions, and captivating gaze, embodying of the ideals of the statue collection of Renaissance era. The statue’s significance lies in its representation of power, will, and the revival of classical aesthetics, making it a symbol of that era.

Artist Michelangelo acquired these skills through his close association with the Medici family.

Pietà 

Pietà Photo By Stanislav Traykov

“La Pietà,” sculpted by Michelangelo between 1498 and 1499, is a famous marble artwork located in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.

This statue depicts Jesus and Mary in a moment immediately after the crucifixion, with Mary holding her son in her arms, appearing unusually youthful. The statue seamlessly combines the aesthetics of the Renaissance with a distinct naturalism.

Michelangelo’s interpretation skillfully blends the classical beauty ideals with a balanced naturalism, a technique he learned through his association with the Medici family and his education in their school.

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.”

Dante Alighieri

Bacchus Michelangelo

Bacchus Photo By Wikimedia

The statue of Bacchus (in Italian: Bacco) is a marble statue created by Michelangelo in the early stages of his career in Rome, around the years 1496-1497.

This statue portrays Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, in a state of intoxication and in a dynamic pose with swirling eyes and an unstable posture. 

The statue of Bacchus features characteristics that identify the figure as Bacchus, such as a crown of vines and leaves on his head, a goblet of wine in his right hand, and the skin of a panther or leopard draped over his left arm. The gesture of Bacchus and his naturalistic nudity add to its timeless allure. Over time, this statue has suffered some damage.

Statue of St. Bartholomew, with his own skin

Statue of St. Bartholomew Photo By Daniel Case

The statue of Saint Bartholomew with his own skin, was created by the Italian sculptor Marco d’Agrate during the Renaissance period. The exact year of its creation is not universally agreed upon, but it is believed to have been completed in the mid-16th century, between 1562 and 1564.

In this statue, Saint Bartholomew is depicted holding his own flayed skin, a gruesome and symbolic element that relates to his martyrdom. The statue of Saint Bartholomew, crafted by the sculptor Marco d’Agrate, is a notable and relatively unusual representation of the saint. This unique sculpture can be found in the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano).

See also  Italian Art Deco

Equestrian statue of Gattamelata

Equestrian monument of Gattamelata, By Donatello
Equestrian statue of Gattamelata Photo By WIkimedia

The equestrian monument of Gattamelata, created by Donatello in 1453, is located in Piazza del Santo in Padua.

This statue is the first full-sized equestrian and most famous Italian statue. This statue depicts Gattamelata on horseback with symbols representing his power, leadership, and military skill. It departs from the emotionalism of earlier equestrian statues and emphasizes realism, reflecting classical influences.

The horse’s pose, Gattamelata’s serious portrayal, and the depiction of power and personality of this equestrian statue contribute to the enduring impact of the sculpture, embodying Renaissance themes of individualism and humanism.

Mannerism

Mannerism(15th and 16th Century) is an Italian sculptural style that emerged in the late Renaissance in Italy. During this period, sculptors and artists used materials like white Carrara marble, bronze, and wood for their sculpting work.

Sculptures are characterized by exaggerated gestures, proportionate figures, and intricate details, often taking on an extraordinary or surreal quality.

Sculptors of this era frequently drew inspiration from classical mythology and biblical stories, infusing these subjects with dramatic flair and emotional intensity. Several examples of the most famous statues of this era in Italy are presented below.

Sancarlone

Colossus of Saint Charles Borromeo,
Colossus of San Carlo Photo By Civvi~commonswiki 

The “Colossus of San Carlo,” also known as “San Carlone” or “Colossus of Saint Charles Borromeo,” is a colossal bronze statue designed by Giovanni Battista between 1614 and 1698.

This statue stands at an impressive height of 23.5 meters and is made from raised copper sheets affixed to an iron frame. It is mounted on a granite pedestal, and its head and hands are made of bronze. The intricate construction and durability of this statue have helped preserve it over the centuries.

Hercules and Cacus

Hercules and Cacus Photo By Livioandronico2013

The “Hercules and Cacus” statue is a white Carrara marble sculpture located in Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy, on the right side of the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio.

This statue, created in 1508 by Baccio Bandinelli, was commissioned by the leader of the Republic of Florence, Piero Soderini, after the expulsion of the Medici family in 1494. It was intended to be a complement to Michelangelo’s statue of David in Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy.

The statue in Piazza della Signoria depicts Hercules, symbolizing his physical prowess, triumphing over Cacus, a fire-breathing monster. It serves as a symbol of the Medici’s victory and their return to power in Florence.

 

Baroque

Exploring the Grandeur of Italy's Baroque Architecture
Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza photo by Lawrence OP

The Baroque (17th and 18th Century) style emerged in the early 17th century and continued until the end of the 18th century. Baroque statues placed a strong emphasis on dramatic presentation, grandeur, and intense emotions and dimensions. Statues of this period were often in the form of full-length portraits or half-figures created in life-size dimensions.

Decorative statues like fountains, vases, and ornamental objects also became popular during this era, often crafted from materials such as white Carrara marble stone and bronze. Here are some of the most famous Italian statues of this era:

Ecstasy of Saint Teresa

Ecstasy of St. Teresa Photo By Livioandronico2013

The “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” (in Italian: L’Estasi di Santa Teresa or Santa Teresa in estasi) is a famous Baroque sculpture created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is located in the small Cornaro Chapel within the Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

This Italian sculpture depicts Saint Teresa in a state of religious ecstasy, accompanied by an angel. Natural light from a hidden window illuminates the sculpture, creating a divine atmosphere. 

The structure also features life-sized portraits in large dimensions from members of the Cornaro family who turned to witness this event. The overall composition is set against a backdrop of colorful marble and a heavenly-painted illusionistic ceiling.

Veiled Christ

Napoli, Cappella Sansevero Photo By David Sivyer

The “Veiled Christ” (in Italian: Cristo velato) is a white Carrara marble sculpture created by Giuseppe Sanmartino in 1753 locates in Naples, Italy. This Italian statue is renowned for its depiction of Jesus in a state of death, covered by a translucent and lifelike marble veil.

Crafted from a single block of white Carrara marble stone, the level of detail in this statue is so astonishing that it was once believed to have been created through alchemical means. 

This Italian statue in Naples is considered one of the most prominent statues in the world because Sanmartino turned to depict the suffering of Christ through the veil while showing signs of anguish on his face and body. Additionally, Sanmartino carved symbols of the instruments of the Passion at the base of Jesus’ feet.

Madonnina

Madonnina Photo By José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro

The “Madonnina” (in Italian: Madonnina) is a statue of the Virgin Mary located atop the Milan Cathedral in Italy. This statue is installed on the spire of the Madonnina and serves as one of the iconic features of the Milan Cathedral.

Designed by Carlo Pellicani in 1774, the Madonnina stands at a height of 108.5 meters (356 feet) and symbolizes the prominent landmark of Milan. No building in the city is allowed to be taller than the Madonnina, making it a significant symbol of the city’s skyline.

Saint Andrew

Saint Andrew Photo By Phil Moore

The “Sant’Andrea” (in Italian: Sant’Andrea) is a marble sculpture created by François Duquesnoy between 1629 and 1633. It is located in the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome.

This sculpture depicts the Apostle Andrew leaning on a cross. It is situated beneath the dome of the basilica and faces the statue of Saint Longinus by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This sculpture is part of a group of four monumental statues beneath the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica. François Duquesnoy’s unique style is showcased in these works of art.

Neoclassicism

In the collection of Italian statues of the Neoclassical period(18th and 19th Century), which emerged in the late 18th century and continued into the early 19th century, artists

 drew inspiration from the paintings of classical antiquity, particularly the art of ancient Greece and Rome. This artistic movement sought to revive the principles of balance, harmony, and order found in classical statues. Some of the famous statues of this era are introduced below.

Monument to Victor Emmanuel II

Monument to Victor Emmanuel II Photo By Didier Descouens

The Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, also known as the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, in Venice, Italy, is an equestrian statue created by the sculptor Augusto Benvenuti in 1887. This  Italian statue serves as a memorial to the death of Italy’s first king, Vittorio Emanuele II, and features allegorical figures symbolizing the victory of Venice.

Surrounding the statue are scenes from the Risorgimento, which in Italian means “resurgence” or “revival” and refers to the nationalistic and liberal movement for Italian unification. This historical monument is set on a pink granite pedestal, enclosed by a bronze gate adorned with military symbols. It was inaugurated on May 1, 1887, and underwent restoration to promote in 2011 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification.

“Death and love are the two wings that bear the good man to heaven.”

Michelangelo

Risen Christ

Risen Christ Photo By Tetraktys

The Resurrection of Christ, created by Michelangelo in 1521, is a marble sculpture located in the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva church in Rome. This Italian statue depicts a naked man holding a cross, commissioned by Metello Vari.

Michelangelo initially started work on the first version of this sculpture but abandoned it due to the presence of black veins in the marble. He then created a new version, completing it first in Florence and later finishing it in Rome.

The first version of this famous sculpture was given as an honor to Metello Vari and was placed in a courtyard near the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.

The second version, despite its challenges, left a significant impact on contemporaries. It portrays Christ standing with a dynamic pose that emphasizes contrapposto, creating powerful effects from various angles.

In the second version of this Italian statue, Christ’s nudity symbolizes his victory over sin and death, with a bronze belt added later to protect and save his genitalia.

Monument to Nicola Demidoff

Monument to Nicola Demidoff Photo By sailko

The Monument to Nicolas Demidoff, known as the Monument à Nicolas Demidoff in Italian, is an open-air 19th-century statue located in Demidoff Square in Florence. This structure was commissioned by the sons of Nicolas Demidoff as a tribute to their father and designed by the sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini. It was completed by Pasquale Romanelli in 1870.

This historical monument in Demidoff Square portrays Nicolas holding his son, surrounded by allegorical figures like Equity and Truth. It celebrates both the creation of the monument itself and the Demidoff family’s contributions to Florence. The main statue and symbolizes Nicolas Demidoff’s philanthropy and commercial success, while the other famous statues represent his connection to the world of art and paintings.

Monument to Grand Duke Ferdinand III of Lorraine

Monument to Grand Duke Ferdinand III of Lorraine Photo By Kimahri88

The Monument to Grand Duke Ferdinand III of Tuscany is a Neoclassical marble statue located in Arezzo, Tuscany. It was sculpted by Stefano Ricci and unveiled in 1822.

Originally placed in Piazza Grande, it was later moved to Piazza di Morlupo in 1932. This Italian statue depicts the Grand Duke in Roman attire, with a crown of laurel leaves symbolizing virtue and power. He holds a staff as a symbol of authority, and a tamed lion lies at his feet.

The prominent figurative relief and settings on the pedestal depict the confluence of the Chiana Valley and the Arno River. Due to damage caused by pollution and deterioration, the items underwent restoration to be saved between 2002 and 2005.

Modern and contemporary

Modern and contemporary most famous Italian statues showcase a rich reflection of artistic innovation in the country. These statues, often characterized by diverse materials, styles, and themes, exemplify the dynamic nature of Italian statues that belonged to the modern era. 

Italian sculptors continuously experiment with new techniques and materials, from abstract forms to figurative representations, to express their artistic perspectives. Some of the most famous statues are mentioned below.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

Thomas Aquinas

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Photo By Darafsh

The Monument to the Unknown Soldier (Tomba del Milite Ignoto) is a war memorial designed by Italian sculptor Angelo Zanelli and located beneath the statue of the Goddess Roma in the Altar of the Fatherland in Rome. This sacred place is dedicated to Italian soldiers who lost their lives or went missing in wars.

This historical monument serves as a central location and belonged to official ceremonies held annually on significant Italian holidays, such as Italy’s Liberation Day (April 25), Republic Day (June 2), and National Unity and Armed Forces Day (November 4). During these ceremonies, the President of Italy and other high-ranking officials pay their respects to the fallen and missing Italian soldiers by placing a wreath of flowers.

 Vittoria Lighthouse 

Vittoria Lighthouse Photo By Luigi Chiesa

The Italian statue Victory Lighthouse (Faro della Vittoria), also known as the Madama Lighthouse, stands as a masterful tribute to a great victory. It was artistically designed by Turin-born artist Edoardo Rubino and is located on top of Madama Hill in Turin, Italy, within the Riembranza Park.

This magnificent lighthouse, constructed in 1928, soars to a height of 26.50 meters and sits at an elevation of 715 meters above sea level. This memorable masterpiece, weighing a substantial 25 tons and standing atop a striking 8-meter stone pedestal, adorns the city and its surroundings with its luminous brilliance.

The radiance of the Victory Lighthouse beautifully illuminates the entire city and its vicinity, creating a special glow in the night. Senator Giovanni Anile dedicated this memorial structure to the city on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Italy’s victory over Austria and Germany in World War I.

See also Fontana del Nettuno: 5 Fascinating Insights into Rome’s Piazza Navona Masterpiece

Famous Italian Statues: A Recap

Famous Italian statues embody the pinnacle of artistic achievement, captivating viewers with their exquisite craftsmanship and profound symbolism. In Rome, the city of eternal beauty, white marble sculptures and buildings adorn iconic landmarks such as the Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza del Campidoglio. Cardinal Scipione Borghese’s collection, including masterpieces like Bernini‘s “Apollo and Daphne,” showcases the divine elegance of biblical characters immortalized in stone. The Trojan priest Laocoön’s agonizing struggle, carved in the first century, still resonates with viewers in the Vatican Museums.

Michelangelo’s “Pieta” in St. Peter’s Basilica and Giuseppe Sanmartino’s “Veiled Christ” in the Galleria dell’Accademia exemplify the sublime beauty of Italian marble sculpture. Marcus Aurelius on horseback, a timeless symbol of Roman power, stands proudly in the Metropolitan Museum, a testament to the enduring legacy of Italian artistry. From the Vatican City to the streets of Rome, these renowned sculptures continue to inspire awe and admiration, each a testament to the genius of Italy’s leading sculptors throughout history.