The Fountain of Neptune in Bologna dates back to 1565, and was created by Jean de Boulogne, also known as Giambologna. It was a controversial artwork when it was created, and still raises eyebrows today. map
The fountain, also known as “The Giant” is located exactly in the ancient center of the city, at the intersection of the 2 main roads in the city in roman times.
The four lactating mermaids (or nereids) are depicted as riding dolphins while expressing milk from their breasts. The symbolism of all this appears to have been lost in history, or maybe there was no particular meaning intended in the first place.
The nudity of both Neptune and the 4 mermaids appears to have been an issue from almost the day the fountain was unveiled, which appears to have been intended by the sculptor.
It says something – and I’m not sure what – that a public artwork commissioned by a cardinal of the church has been able to deliver shock-value for almost 450 years.
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