Sculpture Journal

Horses of a different colour: marmo mischio and Ammannati's remarkable chariot of Neptune

Sculpture Journal (2012), 21, (1), 27–42.

Abstract

This study provides new observations on the style, materials and significance of the horses and chariot on Bartolomeo Ammannati's Neptune Fountain (1560-74) in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence. The depiction of a four-horse chariot was a bold and ambitious choice for a permanent sculpture of this size, one that stands out in the tradition of both public statuary in Florence and public fountains in sixteenth-century Italy. This article discusses the iconographic tradition of the horse and ancient quadriga in Ammannati's time and, drawing on unpublished documents and other primary sources, the challenges of transporting and carving marmo mischio in this and other works commissioned by Duke Cosimo I de' Medici. The horses were among the few large-scale figural works in this material, showing Ammannati's technical skill in carving this richly hued but fragile stone.

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Author details

Else, Felicia