Il ninfeo di Egeria (II sec. d.C.) e la grotta degli Animali a Castello. Il ruolo del modello antico attraverso l’analisi dei disegni del GDSU

Marta Castellini


The Grotta degli Animali at the Medicean Villa in Castello is one of the most famous artificial grottoes of the 16th and 17th centuries. Its building history is quite complex because it underwent many changes, led by three different architects over a period of approximately twenty years, until its final configuration under Giorgio Vasari.
The research looks into the relationship between the Florentine Grotto and its reference model: the Nymphaeum of Egeria along the Via Appia (2nd century A.D.), which was rediscovered during the third decade of the 16th century and subsequently measured by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and Sallustio Peruzzi, whose drawings are preserved at Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi (GDSU). These drawings have been analysed to provide items matching the Medicean Grotto; in particular the survey has been carried out in comparison with another anonymous drawing, representing a planimetric study for the Grotta degli Animali. The inspection of this important document (also through digital acquisition and re-elaboration) shows architectural features that are evocative of the ‘ancient model’ which was partially obliterated by Vasari’s project.

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