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Mercury taking Flight: M.2-1997

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 7 (Courtauld)


Mercury taking Flight


Sculptor: Rustici, Giovanni Francesco




Copper alloy, probably bronze, cast, and chased, mounted later on breccia ball and wooden socle.

Copper alloy, probably bronze, cast, and chased, mounted later on breccia ball and wooden socle. Mercury stands balanced on his right leg on a green and red breccia marble ball. His left leg is thrust out stiffly behind him. His left hand rests on his hip, and his right arm is raised, the hand shaped to grasp a slim rod held roughly horizontally. His head is thrust sharply back, the face turned upwards. His lips are pursed, and his mouth shaped as a nozzle pierced in the centre with a round hole (diam 6mm). In the centre of the figure's back is a large irregular oval aperture (7.8 x 3.7 cm) cast with a rebate designed to receive a closely fitted cover.


History note: Commissioned in 1515 by Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, Palazzo Medici, Florence; Sir Francis Cook Bt, Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey (d.1901); 1901, by inheritance, Wyndham Francis Cook, London (where catalogued by Arthur Banks Skinner); 1905 by inheritance, Humphrey Wyndham Cook, London; His sale, Christie's, London, 8 July 1925, lot 242, bt Henry Harris, London; His sale, Sotheby's, London, 24 October 1950, 'The Henry Harris Collection, Catalogue of the Celebrated Collection of Bronzes, Sculpture, Paintings and works of Art of the Italian Renaissance', lot 106, illustrated as frontispiece; bt Sylvia Adams for Lt. Col. the Hon. M.T. Boscawen, D.S.O., M.C.; Bequeathed by the Hon. Mrs Pamela Sherek, from the collection of the late Lt. Col. the Hon. M.T. Boscawen, D.S.O., M.C. in his memory.

Legal notes

Bequeathed by the Hon. Mrs Pamela Sherek, from the collection of the late Lt Col. the Hon. M.T. Boscawen, DSO, MC, in his memory.

Place(s) associated

  • Florence ⪼ Tuscany ⪼ Italy

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1995) by Sherek, Pamela


16th Century, Early#
Production date: circa AD 1515 : According to Vasari, commissioned in 1515 by Cardinal Giulio de' Medici for a fountain in the courtyard of the Palazzo Medici.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Sculpture UK

Components of the work

Figure composed of copper alloy ( probably bronze) Height 47.9 cm
Socle composed of wood (plant material)
Ball composed of marble Diameter 17.5 cm

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Casting (process) : Copper alloy, probably bronze, cast, and chased, mounted later on breccia ball and wooden socle.

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.2-1997
Primary reference Number: 14009
Old object number: B.1.
External ID: CAM_CCF_M_2_1997
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Mercury taking Flight" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-15 03:42:45

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{{cite web|url= |title=Mercury taking Flight |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-15 03:42:45|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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