Portrait of Andrea Doria as Neptune
Agnolo Bronzino, c 1540-1550
This portrait depicts Andrea Doria, a maverick naval war hero during the mid-16th, as the Roman god of water and the sea, Neptune. Doria gained immense fame and wealth when he played a key role in recapturing Genoa from the French and re-establishing the city as an imperial republic. He later led forces against the Ottoman Empire in the mid-16th century.
Bronzino was commissioned to paint this portrait for a gallery in Italy that was compiling portraits of great men. Andrea Doria, the Genoese naval admiral of the 16th century, surely fit the bill of a great man, given the standards of the time. So much so, that Bronzino chose to mythologize him as the Roman god.
In 1528 Doria earned his place in history when switched his alliance from the king of France to Charles V, France’s enemy and ruler of Spain. In 1535, in a daring attack on the Ottoman empire, Doria and Charles V conquered Tunis. In his power over the sea, Doria was compared to the god Neptune, whom he is depicted as here.
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