An Insignificant Water Feature: The Neptune Fountain
Sitting across the square from the “Fountain of the Moor”, sits a fountain that used to be named “The Boilermakers Fountain”, called the Neptune Fountain now. We have already discussed how this fountain came to be. And how della Porta issued the first blow to this fountain by placing the masks on the Fountain of the Pantheon instead.
The fountain was not an impressive work, as it only released a few stream of water from the four insignificant statuary pillars, while a jet of water from the center ball placed over a stumpy marble column. It would not be until 300 years later that alterations were finally made to this poor little fountain, which featured no ornamentation in comparison to its sister fountain at the other end of the street!
It would be in June of 1873 when Rome authorities created a contest for a Fountain competition to complete and decorate the Neptune Fountain. They offered a prize of 5000 lire for the best model, but there was no commitment to implement it. The fountain model should be harmonious to the fountain of the Moor, and designs should be created with that in mind. The Authorities were concerned with a fountain that would be out of proportion for the area, and wanted it to resemble the works of Bernini.
Ten people entered the contest, but only seven of the names remain in the archives. All of the designers were less well-known fountain designers, and only three of these are really important to discuss.