Bartolomeo Ammannati

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Encyclopedia Article

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Department 1



Bartolomeo Ammannati [Ammanati] (b. 1511–d. 1592) was a prominent sculptor and architect working in Florence in the mid- to late 16th century. He is considered a key figure of the Italian Mannerist period. One of many artists working in the wake of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Ammannati began as a pupil of Baccio Bandinelli before working under Jacopo Sansovino and Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli. Ammannati developed a style that drew on the dynamic compositions of Michelangelo but one that was tempered with a sense of restraint and an ability to engage bold classical forms and details. In the 1530s and 1540s, Ammannati worked on significant projects, such as Sansovino’s Biblioteca Marciana in Venice and Montorsoli’s tomb for the poet Jacopo Sannazaro installed in Naples. However, he encountered a frustrating setback when his tomb for the soldier Mario Nari in SS. Annunziata in Florence was criticized and taken down amidst religious objections. Between 1544 and 1548, Ammannati created remarkable sculptural and architectural ensembles in Padua for humanist and antiquarian Marco Mantua Benavides, including a triumphal arch, statues of Jupiter and Apollo and a colossus of Hercules, whose towering twenty-nine-foot figure was reproduced on a print by Enea Vico and Antonio Lafreri (1553). Ammannati’s tomb for Benavides in the Church of the Eremitani is celebrated for its sculptural and architectural balance, illustrating his take on Michelangelo’s unfinished wall tombs in the Medici Chapel. In 1550, Ammannati married Laura Battiferra of Urbino, an accomplished poet and a prominent figure in the devotional culture of Counter-Reformation Italy. He traveled to Rome where he undertook important commissions related to the papal family, including tombs for the Del Monte in S. Pietro in Montorio and portions of Julius III’s Villa Giulia, on which he collaborated with Giorgio Vasari and Jacopo Vignola. Ammannati’s elegant and whimsical Nymphaeum for the Villa Giulia showcases his developing architectural style. In 1555, Ammannati returned to Florence to serve under Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, where his service to this family would mark the height of his career and see the full maturity of his style. His works exemplify Mannerism at its height, from the artfully elongated bronzes of the Neptune Fountain to the playful rustication of the Palazzo Pitti courtyard. His numerous fountains present splendid and witty tableaux, and his bronze Ops for the Studiolo of Francesco de’ Medici stands out for its grace and refinement. As architect and engineer, he was responsible for landmarks such as the Ponte Santa Trinità and the Column of Justice, and he oversaw construction materials for the Cathedral and the Uffizi. In his later years, Ammannati took on architectural projects outside of Florence and he grew increasingly dedicated to the Jesuit order and the concerns of the Counter Reformation, even condemning the display of nudity in his own work in 1582. He and Laura left their possessions to the Jesuits and helped with the reconstruction of the church of S. Giovannino in Florence, funding a chapel where they were buried. [excerpt]



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