TRIBOLO, Niccolò
(b. 1500, Firenze, d. 1558, Firenze)

Fountain of Hercules and Antaeus

after 1536
Bronze and marble
Villa di Castello, Rifredi, Florence

Tribolo, a sculptor and engineer, designed the terraced garden, and the fountains of the lower level for the Medici Villa di Castello in Rifredi, near Florence. The Fountain of Hercules and Antaeus, executed by various sculptors after 1536, is the earliest of fully-developed Renaissance fountain complex. From that time onwards the decoration of fountains provided one of the major outlets for sculpture.

So well organized was Tribolo's workshop that his Fountain of Hercules at Castello, now judged to be his masterpiece, was executed largely by assistants from his models, much of it posthumously. Larger, more richly decorated and with a more copious flow of water than the Fountain of the Labyrinth, it consists of an octagonal marble basin and two tazze decorated with marble and bronze putti, masks and claws. The whole is topped by a heroic bronze group of Hercules and Antaeus, which contrasts in typical fashion with the animated denizens of Tribolo's fairyland below.

The monumental bronzes for Castello were cast in a somewhat perfunctory fashion in the 1560s: the Hercules and Antaeus and a colossal Appennine by Bartolomeo Ammanati's assistants and the small statue of Florence by Giambologna's. They nevertheless retain important vestiges of Tribolo's models.