Giambologna was born in Douai, Flanders (now in Belgium). After youthfull studies in Antwerp with Jean Dubroeuq, he moved to Italy in 1550, and studied in Rome. Giambologna made detailed study of the sculpture of classical antiquity. He was also much influenced by Michelangelo, but developed his own Mannerist style, with perhaps less emphasis on emotion and more emphasis on beauty than the older master. Giambologna spent his most productive years in Florence, where his work was much patronized by the Medici family. He became the Medici court sculptor, and died in Florence at the age of 79. He was interred in a chapel he designed himself in the Church of Santissima Annunziata.
Giambologna became well known for the fine sense of action and movement suggested in his works. Perhaps his most famous work is the winged Mercury (of which he actually did multiple versions). Other especially notable works include several depictions of Venus, "Florence defeating Pisa", "The Rape of the Sabines", the equestrian statue of Cosimo I de' Medici in Florence, and the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna.
Giambologna was an important influence on such later artists as Gian Lorenzo Bernini.