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Portrait of Andrea Doria as Neptune

Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo)

Paolo Giovio commissioned this portrait from Bronzino for a museum that he was putting together in Borgovico, near Como, to house the “verae imagines” of illustrious men. Here Andrea Doria, an admiral who served under both Pope Clement VII and Emperor Charles V, is allegorically transformed into the sea god Neptune. He is shown naked beside a main-mast, his genitals concealed by the ship’s sail. He originally held an oar in his right hand but it was later changed to represent the sea god’s trident.


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The future is cast as the past. Neptune is an old god, but this portrait is luminously radical. No swagger of rank or descent here- the boldly naked general needs only his virile will to conquer the shifting sea. Muscles braced, sailing towards a new world- is the sharp-strobed storm which lights him approaching or receding? A trident has replaced the original wooden oar, which drove Doria’s swift war galleys. Power is light, rapid, flickering towards a revolution.
Lisa Hilton

Download hi-res image TITLE Portrait of Andrea Doria as Neptune
AUTHOR Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo)
DATE c. 1545 - 6
DIMENSIONS cm 149 x 199.5
Work on display
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