Allinari Archives/Corbis

Giambologna (1529-1608)—one of the great sculptors of the late Italian Renaissance, who was also known as Da Bologna and Jean Boulogne—lived briefly in Rome before moving to Florence. His bronze equestrian statues of the Medici grand-dukes Ferdinand I and his son Cosimo I owe much to the ancient Marcus Aurelius statue that he had earlier viewed in Rome.

In 1587 Ferdinand I commissioned the bronze equestrian statue of Cosimo I (1519-1574), which still stands in the Piazza della Signoria. A noble, idealized Cosimo sits firmly astride his mount, conveying a message of confident, absolute power.