(b. 1530, Perugia, d. 1576, Perugia)
Neptune with Sea-Horsec. 1560
Bronze, height 49 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Roman gods and goddesses were popular subjects for sculpture as they could be shown nude. Their elongated yet muscular bodies demonstrate the elegance of the Mannerist style. Their poses highlight the interest in complicated compositions shared by both artists and patrons.
This statuette depicts Neptune, the God of water and the sea in Roman mythology. Neptune strides forward on his left foot, his body twisted to the left, looking over his right shoulder. His right arm is raised, his left dropped behind his back. Between his feet is a sea-horse on a huge shell. The narrow base represents waves.
The opposed torsion between the head and right arm of Neptune gives to the body a spiraling motion that continues through the arched neck of the attendant seahorse and on to the back of the statuette. The compositional movement is fully three-dimensional, and the figure is designed to be viewed from many angles.
Formerly this statuette was attributed to Alessandro Vittoria.