The J. Paul Getty Museum

Neptune with Dolphin

Object Details


Neptune with Dolphin


After Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Italian, 1598 - 1680)




probably 17th century (after 1623)



Object Number:



55.9 cm (22 in.)

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Object Description

Neptune, Roman god of the sea, stands astride a dolphin on a bed of waves, lunging forward with his trident into the viewer's space. His unruly hair and beard and the billowing drapery that winds around his muscled figure evoke the sense of a whipping wind over the ocean. The flattened planes with which the sculptor modeled the muscles on the chest, arms, and legs heighten the feel of strength in the figure's movements. His intense focus on an unseen object before him adds a menacing tone. This drama of physicality and motion is characteristic of the Baroque style.

The tabletop bronze is a reduced variant of a marble fountain sculpture made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini around 1620 for the garden of the great collector and patron, Cardinal Montalto, in Rome. All of the four known versions in bronze include a long-bodied dolphin between Neptune's legs, replacing the figure of a triton who served as a supportive strut on the marble statue. Reductions in bronze are unusual in Roman sculpture of the time; the multiple reproductions of Neptune are probably due to the celebrity of its maker, who dominated Roman sculptural production in the seventeenth century.

by 1968

David Peel & Co. Ltd. (London)

- 1990

Adrian Ward-Jackson, 1950 - 1991 (London), by inheritance to his heirs, 1990.

1990 - 1994

Heirs of Adrian Ward-Jackson, 1950 - 1991 (London) [unsold, Sotheby's, London, April 12, 1990, lot 56], placed on consignment with Cyril Humphris, 1994.

- 1994

On consignment with Cyril Humphris, S.A. (London), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994.


Apollo 87 (May 1968), illustrated in an advertisement, xci.

"Acquisitions/1994." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 23 (1995), p. 121, no. 99.

Fusco, Peter. Summary Catalogue of European Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 4, ill.

Coliva, Anna, and Sebastian Schütze, eds. Bernini scultore: La nascita del barocco in Casa Borghese, exh. cat. (Rome: Villa Borghese, with Edizioni De Luca, 1998), p. 176.

Weston-Lewis, Aidan ed. Effigies and Ecstasies: Roman Baroque Sculpture and Design in the Age of Bernini, exh. cat. (Edinburgh: National Gallery of Scotland, 1998), pp. 89-91, fig. 64.

Fogelman, Peggy, and Peter Fusco, with Marietta Cambareri. Italian and Spanish Sculpture: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), pp. 170-76, 360-61, no. 22, entry by Peter Fusco.