Statues And Fountains In Florence

The vogue for statues and fountains of contemporary rather than classical figures extended through the end of the century. In 1599 Cioli went to Carrara to obtain the marbles for four statues and matching fountains: two dwarfs (a Morgante and a Mar-gutte) and two peasants (a digger and a vintager). As the sculptor died before the year was over, and he could complete the fountain; the figures were continued from his models by his nephew Simone Cioli, and the fountains were finally completed in 1606 and 1608. The two dwarfs have been lost; and the statue of the digger, still in the Boboli Garden, apparently had no connection with a fountain. The group of the Vintage still stands in the Boboli Garden, at the end of a path leading from the chief axis of the Isolotto. It consists of a peasant empty¬ing a bucket of grapes into a vat, and a balancing statue of a watching boy. These figures, released from all architectural restraint, stand free in the surrounding space in the fashion of baroque sculpture.

Other figures of peasants in contemporary costume were executed at Fratolino in the sixteenth century, for in the lunette of 1599, upon a foun¬tain erected on the site originally decorated by Ammannati's Fountain of Juno and still known as the "Fountain of Ammannati," appear several figures clad in contemporary costume, and represented in comic poses. This group of genre figures, though of little aesthetic interest, are of considerable historical importance; for they reveal a tendency to natural¬ism in Florentine sculpture of the Cinquecento, a school and period noted for its slavish classicism. Here is a Classic Urn Fountain:

Did this addition of genre subjects to the iconography of the fountain originate at Florence, or had these figures prototypes in the genre figures on Northern fountains, like that of the Gansemannchen at Nuremberg? So far as we know, this figure and others by the same anonymous sculptor do not antedate the earliest Italian examples.

Valerio Cioli, the chief exponent of genre sculpture at Florence, had made his reputation in Rome in the restoration of ancient statues, an occupation which he continued at Florence while in the employ of the Medici. While in Rome he must have seen ancient statues on genre themes, for the Hellenistic period abounded in sculpture of this type, now vaguely assigned to the Alexandrian school. Certainly he knew the figure of the Arrotino in the Uffizi which Cosimo I called simply "a peasant sharpening a knife." From such classical prototypes it was just a step to peasants emptying buckets, or digging, in contemporary costume. A classic shaped fountain common to the era:

Classical inspiration would also explain Cioli's use of marble as the medium for his genre figures. The more pictorial bronze is better adapted to such subjects; compare the tiny fountain of a dwarf in the Bargello, often attributed to Cioli, with his marble figure of the dwarf Morgante. The Gansemannchen at Nuremberg and the small bronzes by Giovanni Bologna and his school, depicting peasants catching birds and playing bagpipes, are other cases in point. The rough gray stones whose neutral tones blend with the natural surroundings are also to be pre¬ferred to marble for garden sculpture of this sort.

Statues And Fountains In Florence 7.6 of 10 on the basis of 1898 Review.