AMMANATI, Bartolomeo
(b. 1511, Settignano, d. 1592, Firenze)


Italian Mannerist sculptor and architect, strongly influenced by Michelangelo and by Sansovino. Orphaned at the age of 12, Ammanati earnt his living in the 'Academy' of Baccio Bandinelli c. 1523–27, after which time he left Florence for Venice. Jacopo Sansovino had just arrived there after the Sack of Rome (1527), and Ammanati was probably involved on some of Sansovino's early commissions. He left Venice after about five years, worked in Pisa, then returned to Florence where he carved a statue of Leda.

From 1536 to 1538 Ammanati worked with Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli on the tomb of the poet Jacopo Sannazaro for Santa Maria del Parto, Naples, carving statues of Apollo/David, Minerva/Judith, St Nazarius and two putti below. In Venice, Ammanati collaborated on Sansovino's Biblioteca Marciana carving several river gods on the spandrels and some lion-masks on the keystones of the arches on the façade.

Ammanati was documented as active in Padua and Vicenza intermittently between 1544 and 1548. He carved a colossal Hercules for the courtyard of the Paduan palazzo of the humanist jurist and antiquarian Marco Mantova Benavides (in situ). This was followed by a triumphal arch in the garden of the palazzo, with statues of Jupiter and Apollo (finished 1547; in situ), and by the tomb of Marco Mantova Benavides (unveiled 1546) in the church of the Eremitani, Padua.

In Urbino on 17 April 1550 Ammanati married the poetess Laura Battiferri (1523–89), later the subject of an extraordinary portrait by Agnolo Bronzino. They travelled to Rome to solicit work from the newly elected pope, Julius III. This resulted in a commission for a pair of tombs, for the Pope's uncle, Cardinal Antonio Maria Ciocchi del Monte, and for Fabiano del Monte (finished c. 1553) in San Pietro in Montorio.

When Julius III died in 1555, Ammanati was summoned by Vasari back to Florence to enter the service of Duke Cosimo I de' Medici. He shortly received a major commission for the spectacular Fountain of Juno for the Sala Grande of the Palazzo Vecchio. The fountain was never erected in the hall but was set up out of doors at Pratolino. The six over life-size marble fountain figures are now in the Bargello, Florence.

In 1559–60 Ammanati successfully cast in bronze the great terminal group of Hercules and Antaeus for Niccolò Tribolo's Fountain of Hercules on the lowest terrace of the gardens behind Cosimo's villa of Il Castello; this technical feat had previously defeated Vincenzo Danti on account of the complexity of the composition. Between 1563 and 1565 Ammanati also modelled a half-length giant in stone to represent the mountain range of the Apennines. It is the centrepiece of the fishpond on the highest terrace of the gardens of Il Castello.

Ammanati's best-known sculpture is the Fountain of Neptune (c. 1560–75) in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence. The central figure was carved out of a colossal block of marble that had been begun by Bandinelli before his death (1560), and this inhibited Ammanati's treatment. Consequently (by general consent) the Neptune is neither characteristic nor aesthetically satisfactory. More successful are the surrounding bronze figures of four recumbent deities and a troop of gesticulating fauns and satyrs (all 1571–75), modelled and cast under his supervision by a team of assistants. The general design and character of these figures, as well as an allegorical female nude statuette personifying Ops (1572–73) epitomize Ammanati's mature style.

In 1572 Ammanati was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII to create a tomb for his nephew, Giovanni Buoncompagni, which was erected in the Camposanto of Pisa. It consists of an aedicula framing a central statue of the Risen Christ, draped and showing his wounds. By 1582 Ammanati had become so strongly influenced by the Counter-Reformation and the Jesuits, that in a famous letter to the Accademia del Disegno in Florence he denounced on moral grounds the public display of nude sculpture.

As well as being a sculptor, Ammanati was also a gifted architect, generally following the lead of Michelangelo's designs for the Biblioteca Laurenziana and for the New Sacristy in San Lorenzo, both in Florence. Ammanati's tombs and major fountains had involved him in this field from early in his career, and in the 1540s he had worked on Sansovino's Biblioteca Marciana in Venice and on the Benavides triumphal arch in Padua. In the following decade, in Rome, he began more specifically architectural work for Pope Julius III, in the sunken courtyard and fountain grottoes of the Villa Giulia, alongside Giacomo da Vignola and Vasari (1552).

In Florence after 1555, in addition to the various elaborate fountains that Cosimo I ordered, he was also commissioned to improve (1560–77) the Palazzo Pitti, which had been acquired (1549) as a residence for the Duchess, Eleonora of Toledo. His masterpiece there is the half-sunken courtyard, with the surrounding building rising a full three storeys on three sides of a rectangle, and, above a fountain grotto on the fourth side, framing a view over the Boboli Gardens, which were being laid out axially up the steep hill that rises towards the Belvedere fortress.

Ammanati designed palazzi in Florence which are characterized by a continual and inventive variety of forms. In 1558 the Ponte di Santa Trinita was destroyed when the River Arno flooded. After an unsuccessful initial approach to Michelangelo in Rome, Ammanati received the commission for its reconstruction to a new design (1567–70). In Lucca, Ammanati was commissioned to reconstruct the Palazzo Ducale (1577–81); he finished the minor façade but left incomplete the Cortile degli Svizzeri and the great courtyard.

Ammanati was in contact with the Jesuit Order from 1572, when they were proposing to enlarge their college in Florence and to reconstruct the neighbouring church of San Giovannino (1579–85). In their wills Ammanati and his wife left all their property to the Jesuits in Florence, as they had no children. By 1584 he had started to prepare an elaborate treatise on architecture and town planning (untraced). A collection of plans of building types, known as La città, is in the Uffizi, some drawings are also in the Uffizi and in the Biblioteca Riccardiana, and papers left to the Jesuits are in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, all in Florence.