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.
Despite his importance, no book-length monograph overview of Ammannati has been published in English. As Saslow 1996 points out, Ammannati’s life has been very much overlooked. Italian scholarship provides a greater range and depth of research, with the two best book-length studies being Turco and Salvi 1995, an anthology of various authors from a conference, and Strozzi and Zikos 2011, which accompanied an exhibition and features an updated summary of his life (Cherubini 2011). A review of the 2011 exhibition, Davis 2011 challenges some aspects while providing a good overview of material. Smaller studies in Italian include Venturi 1936 and Gabrielli 1936–1937. In English, good overviews by reputable scholars of Italian sculpture in this period can be found in Pope-Hennessy 1996, Poeschke 1996, and Avery 2003.
Avery, Charles. “Ammanati [Ammannati], Bartolomeo [Bartolommeo].” In Grove Art Online. Edited by Judith Rodenbeck. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
An excellent overview of Ammannati’s sculpture and architecture by one of the leading specialists in Italian Renaissance sculpture. Covers an impressive range of the artist’s activities and influences and includes detailed discussions of style and attribution for many individual works as well as a good bibliography.
Cherubini, Alessandro. “Su Bartolomeo Ammannati, scultore fiorentino e architetto.” In L’acqua, la pietra, il fuoco: Bartolomeo Ammannati scultore. Edited by Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi and Dimitrios Zikos, 46–93. Florence: Giunti, 2011.
A good updated summary of the life and works, primarily sculptural, of Ammannati, done in conjunction with a 2011 exhibition at the Bargello.
Davis, Charles. “Ammannati: Florence.” Burlington Magazine 153.1301 (2011): 557–558.
Review of the L’acqua, la pietra, il fuoco: Bartolomeo Ammannati scultore exhibition and catalogue of 2011 challenging some of the attributions. Can come across as somewhat critical but does provide solid overviews and observations of material relating to Ammannati.
Gabrielli, Annamaria. “Su Bartolomeo Ammannati.” Critica d’Arte 2 (1936–1937): 89–95.
Early study laying the groundwork for a selection of works attributed to Ammannati, including the Leda and the Swan, the Sannazaro tomb, the Benavides Arch in Padua, the Del Monte tomb in Rome, statues on the Neptune Fountain, and the Mars Gradivus.
Poeschke, Joachim. Michelangelo and His World. Translated by Russell Stockman. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.
Like Pope-Hennessy 1996, Joachim Poeschke’s study of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo and those following him provides an authoritative overview of Ammannati’s career as a sculptor with bibliographic sources and, for some works, expanded material. Some of his works are also featured in similar thematic discussions on colossal statues, tomb monuments, and fountains.
Pope-Hennessy, John. Italian High Renaissance and Baroque Sculpture. 4th ed. London: Phaidon, 1996.
This landmark study covering Italian sculpture of the 16th and 17th centuries remains an authoritative source. The entry on Ammannati provides a detailed bibliographic discussion of a range of the artist’s sculptures while thematic essays on the High Renaissance Tomb, the High Renaissance Statue, and the Florentine Fountain provide context for specific works.
Saslow, James M. “Review of Michael Kiene Bartolomeo Ammannati.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 55.3 (1996): 350–351.
In this short but inciteful review of Micheal Kiene’s book on Ammannati’s architecture (see Kiene 1995 [cited under Architecture]), Saslow provides a concise and engaging overview of the artist’s life and how it has been overlooked.
Strozzi, Beatrice Paolozzi, and Dimitrios Zikos, eds. L’acqua, la pietra, il fuoco: Bartolomeo Ammannati scultore. Florence: Giunti, 2011.
An indispensable publication covering a range of works by Ammannati with thorough up-to-date scholarship and good-quality illustrations. This catalogue to an exhibition of his work in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence in 2011 focuses primarily on sculpture, covering mostly works done in and around Florence. The book includes extended studies of the Fountain of Juno and the Neptune Fountain and shorter catalogue entries on lesser-known works like the Leda and the Swan, Mars Gradivus, and Venus as well as recently attributed works like the Genio mediceo.
Turco, Niccolò Rosselli del, and Federica Salvi, eds. Bartolomeo Ammannati scultore e architetto. Florence: Alinea, 1995.
An anthology of over thirty-six scholarly studies from a conference held in Florence and Lucca in 1994. The range of topics and authoritative scholars makes this a crucial volume for understanding the scope of this artist’s contributions. They include discussions of his bronzes and the Neptune Fountain; historiographies of research; an exhaustive biographical chronology and bibliography; numerous studies of his architecture; thematic subjects, like his rapport with the Jesuits; and lesser-known projects, such as raising the Vatican obelisk, bridge repair, and hydraulics
Venturi, Adolfo. “Bartolomeo Ammannati.” In Storia dell’arte italiana: X.2, La scultura del Cinquecento. By Adolfo Venturi. Milan: U. Hoepli, 1936.
Focused primarily on sculpture, this early comprehensive study also provides a biographical overview and important discussions of style and attribution.
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