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

Fountain of Neptune

1559-75
Marble and bronze
Piazza della Signoria, Florence

Since 1550 there was a rivalry between Bandinelli, Cellini and Ammanati to make a fountain in the Piazza della Signoria. After Bandinelli's death in 1560 Cellini and Ammanati both sought the commission, which Michelangelo and Vasari ultimately secured for Ammanati, an experienced carver. In 1565 Ammanati's model for the giant was set up for the wedding of Francesco de' Medici and Giovanna d'Austria, although the marble was only completed in 1570 and the fountain unveiled in 1575.

Ammanati's Neptune stands on a sea-shell chariot, pulled by four horses rising out of the water, and carries a general baton. Neptune is presented as a civic protector, alluding to Cosimo's efforts to increase the water supply and to establish a viable port at Livorno. The eight-sided marble basin seems small compared with the figure of Neptune.