Putto with Dolphin, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

Making the world a better place through Art Conservation
Putto with Dolphin. Michelozzo courtyard, Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, Florence. Bronze, height 125 cm.
Michelozzo Courtyard, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, scaffolding coming down.

Andrea del Verrocchio (b. 1435, Florence, d. 1488, Venice) originally designed and executed the Putto with Dolphin for a fountain located in the 15th century Medici villa of Careggi. In the 16th century, when the newly wedded Cosimo I of Medici and his wife Eleonora di Toledo moved into Palazzo Vecchio, Cosimo took the fountain with him and placed it in the Palazzo’s main courtyard, known as the courtyard of Michelozzo. The precarious but graceful arabesque of the Putto, perched on top of a partial sphere with water issuing from a spout in the dolphin’s mouth, graced the courtyard until World War II, when together with many other important art works, the Putto was removed from the fountain and placed in hiding for safekeeping. After the War, the Italian ministry of culture decided to place the original Putto inside the museum of Palazzo Vecchio and made a bronze copy for the external fountain. Bruno Bearzi, an artist renowned in his own right for his virtuoso bronze working techniques, made the copy that stands today on top of the fountain.

Michelozzo Courtyard, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, scaffolding coming down.

Conservation treatments on the fountain began at the end of 2015 and involved a team of four specialized conservators, one of which was Mircea. Conservation procedures required cleaning, consolidating and protecting the marble, porphyry and bronze elements that constitute the fountain, as well as reactivating the fountains’ original water flow by substituting the entire piping system with a new and more efficient mechanism. By the end of June, 2016 the fountain was unveiled to the delight of the public who can now admire the trickling flow of water that for centuries has characterized one of the most important courtyards of Florence.

The ongoing maintenance of conserved art works, aimed at monitoring and delaying their future deterioration, is one of the Foundation’s and Associazione Bastioni’s main missions. Too often patrons and donors seek the spectacular results derived from full-fledged conservation campaigns, at times forgetting that without maintenance, the efforts and resources invested in conservation treatments become meaningless.


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Thanks to the agreement with the City Town Hall of Florence “Servizi Fabbrica Palazzo Vecchio” and under the emblem “Florence I Care” (FLICK), the Mircea Maria Gerard Foundation began a long-term maintenance campaign of the Verrocchio Fountain situated in the Michelozzo courtyard, Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

The campaign lasted three years (2017-2019) and included two treatment cycles per year of this delicately beautiful fountain.  It was the last conservation work that Mircea was involved in before he passed away. And so the reinstallation of the fountain right in the heart of the Palazzo Vecchio was especially poignant for all of those involved. Treatments were undertaken by members of the Associazione Bastioni, Florence, students and interns.

This campaign was made possible thanks to the generous contributions of MMGFoundation donors.