PONSONELLI, Giacomo Antonio
(b. 1654, Massa, d. 1735, Genova)

Biography

Italian sculptor. He first studied with his father Giovanni Ponsonelli, a sculptor and decorator, and then with Filippo Parodi. In 1680 he married Parodi's daughter and, until the death of his father-in-law in 1702, he worked with him so closely that it is difficult to distinguish Ponsonelli's contribution to their collaborative works in Venice (1678-87), Genoa and Padua (1685-97). He was greatly influenced by the Roman Baroque, which he probably studied when he visited Rome with Parodi. His architectural decoration for Parodi's St Martha in Ecstasy (Genoa, S Marta) was inspired by Bernini's illusionistic settings, and also reflects Ponsonelli's early apprenticeship as a decorator with his father.

Ponsonelli's two busts, of Cardinale Stefano Durazzo (1677; Genoa, Convento di S Vincenzo de' Paoli) and Marc'Antonio Grillo (1683; Genoa, Albergo dei Poveri), are also influenced by Bernini, and show great psychological insight. The influence of his long collaboration with Parodi is revealed in the great angel of the funerary monument of Bishop Stefano Spinola (after 1683; Savona Cathedral), which recaptures the free, fluent movement and the form of Parodi's monument to Morosini (Venice, S Nicolň dei Tolentini). The same influence is evident in such later works as the figures of Faith, Hope and Charity (1690-1705; Genoa, Cappella di S Diego, Chiesa dell'Annunziata). A close affinity with the painting of Domenico Piola and Gregorio de' Ferrari is seen particularly in the fanciful arrangement of the group and the fluency of the forms in Vision of the Madonna of Mercy (Genoa, Chiesa dell'Annunziata di Portoria).

Ponsonelli sent many sculptures to Lisbon, Cadiz and Valencia, and for the palace of John Adam, Prince of Liechtenstein, in Vienna he sculpted mythological figures of which a bust of Mars has survived (Vaduz, Schloss Liechtenstein). His last work, completed after his death by his pupil, Pasquale Bocciardo (?1710-c. 1791), is the dramatic high altar for the church of Nostra Signora delle Vigne, Genoa, which is surmounted by a tumultuous glory of clouds and flying angels.