A Perugia Masterpiece: Fontana Maggiore
One of the most beautiful and interesting fountains of the entire 13th century, the Fontana Maggiore, is a Perugia masterpiece. The name of the fountain means major fountain in Italian. Standing in the center of the square of Perugia, Italy, it is considered to be one of the great fountain masterpieces in all of history. Nicola and Giovanni Pisano designed and sculpted the fountain in the 13th century. This marked the beginning of the Renaissance period, when fountains and wall fountains were important to the people, but also were an important contribution to the arts.
Sculpture became very prominent during the Renaissance period. The common fountain sculpture features a sequence of circular or polygonal basins placed on a vertical support, with a fountain figure on top where water spouted from. The Great Leonardo da Vinci even sculpted fountains. Following the Italian Baroque period, fountains became complex compositions of basins, sculpture, and water display. The Fontana Maggoire withstood the test of time, proving itself as a fine testament to the history of fountains.
The fountain was originally meant to symbolize the freedom of the city of Perugia from the Roman domination. It also symbolized the completion of the aqueducts that brought water to the city from the mountain springs that were five miles away.
The design of the fountain is made up of two polygonal basins, crafted from pink and white stone, with one over the other. A bronze basin is surmounting the structure, with a group of three bronze nymphs that hold an urn, which is where water flows from. Later on, there were four griffons topping the group, but these were dismantled, and are now housed in the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria.
The upper polygon is placed over 24 small columns, with a statues placed on top. The statues represent figures from the mythological story of the founding of Perugia. Biblical characters like column, Moses John the Baptist, Michael the archangel and the Archpriest Melchisedech are featured on the fountain also. A personification of Rome, the church, Theology, and the Saints Peter and Paul is also featured. The lower basin is made up of 25 sections, each being divided into two panels. The panels are all sculpted and represent episodes from the Old Testament, mythology, Aesop’s fables, and the months of the year. There is a stunning harmony created between all elements of this fountain is a testament to the wonderful skill of Nicola and Giovanni Pisano.