The model upon which the present bronze is based surmounted the Fiorenza Fountain in the gardens of the Villa di Castello. Commissioned by Cosimo de Medici, the fountain was designed by Niccolò Tribolo but left unfinished at the time of the artist’s death in 1550. The exact date of the bronze's later execution by Giambologna is contested in the scholarship – it may have been as early as 1560, or in the 1570s, when the sculptor was portrayed with the model by Hans van Aachen. It is generally accepted, however, that the Fiorenza largely follows Tribolo’s original model, with Giambologna’s stylistic signature confined to the woman’s features. According to Vasari, the motif of a woman wringing water from her hair was chosen to present Florence as a flourishing city at the confluence of two rivers, the Arno and the Mugnone. It is clearly also an allusion to the Venus Anadyomene type, famously conceived by Apelles and eagerly adopted by Italian Renaissance artists. Tribolo and Giambologna’s Fiorenza thus follows in the footsteps Lorenzo de' Medici's Birth of Venus ideology, which celebrated Florence as a rising, fertile and nourishing city.
The Fiorenza Fountain was transferred to the Villa Petraia in 1788, and it may have been at this time that the present cast was made.
C. Avery and A. Radcliffe, Giambologna 1529-1608, Sculptor to the Medici, exh. cat., Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1978, p. 80, no. 29; C. Avery, Giambologna: The Complete Sculpture, Oxford, 1987, pp. 130-131; W. Seipel (ed.), Giambologna: Triumph des Körpers, exh. cat. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 2006, pp. 192-195, no. 2