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

Leda with the Swan

Marble, height 50 cm
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

Ammanati was a Mannerist sculptor and architect. He studied and worked in Venice and Rome before settling in Florence in 1555. His most important works are in the latter city. Ammanati's masterpiece is the gracefully arched Ponte Santa Trinità (1567-70; bombed 1944, rebuilt 1957) spanning the Arno River. He also built the enlargements of the Palazzo Pitti (1558-70), including the heavily Mannerist three-story courtyard entirely in rusticated (rough) stone. The suave bronze basin figures of his colossal Neptune Fountain (1576, Piazza della Signoria) are admired more than the stiffly posed marble figure of the sea god in its centre.

The sculpture of Leda is essentially a study piece, a small-scale work that translates a now lost Michelangelo design into three-dimensions. It shows Ammanati attempting to master the kinds of figural inventions that defined Michelangelo's artistry, but the choice to carry out the composition in stone also reflects an awareness that the sculptor did not work in absolute liberty, that he always had to deal with the given block.

Ammanati sent the statue to Francesco Maria della Rovere, the Duke of Urbino.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.