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Department 1



The story of the creation of the Neptune Fountain on the Piazza della Signoria in Florence is long and tortuous. Scholars have drawn on a wealth of documentary material regarding the competition for the commission, the various phases of the fountain's construction, and the critical reception of its colossus, both political and aesthetic. A collection of unpublished letters at the Getty Research Center in Los Angeles offers a new perspective on the making of this major public monument. Sent by Bartolomeo Ammannati to the prvveditore of Pisa, they chronicle the artist's involvement in the procurement and transportation of marble from Carrara and Seravezza for the chariot and basin of the fountain during the years 1565-73. The correspondence, excerpts from which are published here, shows that Ammannati faced numerous delays and mishaps, and continual pressure from his patrons during this second phase of the fountain's construction. The letters provide further insight into the personality of one of the most important artists at the court of Duke Cosimo I, whose role required the skills of a project manager and negotiator. The commission for a grandiose fountain in Florence's main square took much longer to complete than had been expected and taxed the artist's patience, persistence and resourcefulness. [excerpt]