(b. 1529, Douai, d. 1608, Firenze)

Fountain of Neptune

Bronze and marble, 335 cm (central figure)
Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

Three years after the competition for the Fountain of Neptune in Florence, the authorities in Bologna approached Giambologna to make a statue of Neptune and many subsidiary figures and ornaments for a fountain designed by Tommaso Laureti that they were erecting in the centre of their city. The young sculptor's full powers seem to have been released in the making of this Fountain of Neptune (completed 1566), perhaps because the artistic milieu of Bologna was less competitive than that of Florence. He was able to give rein to his imagination and sure sense of composition in the mighty figure of Neptune itself, with its energetic pose and sharp turn of the head.

At the feet of Neptune are four boys struggling with dolphins, which spout water, interspersed with grotesquely puffing heads of childlike wind-gods, also spouting water. At the four corners of the pedestal below are four sensuous figures of Sirens, with bulbous curving fishy tails for legs, expressing water from their full breasts into the basin below. In between are many grotesque masks and shells articulating the several smaller basins.

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