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Known as one of the Most Beautiful Fountains in the World: The Barberini Triton

A very busy place, the Piazza Barberini is located just down from a short walk from the Via Quartro Fontane. This was also known as Sixtus V's Old "Strada Felica". One of the most beautiful fountains in the world stands in the center of this busy area. Often surrounded by a multitude of cars, large billboards, and taxis, the Barberini Triton is just asking for some room for its beauty to be enjoyed.

Many Romans are unaware of the beauty in the Barberini Triton fountain. While many lovers of Rome collect around the center of the city and trod over the walkways of the city, there are not many who know about the beauty of this piece. It was believed that there were only three dolphins on this great fountain when it was written about, but there are actually four dolphins on this public water feature.

The Background of the Barberini Triton

It is believed that the symbol of tritons date back to 1640, quite possibly even 1637. It is thought that when the fountain was built that it may have acted as a model for Bernini's work.

Work on the Piazza Barberini fountain had just barely begun in 1642 as Baglion states: "And thanks to Most Holy Urban [VIII] having greatly increased the sources of the Aqua Felice, a beautiful display is being made now with the part of this in the square in front of their Palace and they are building an empty fountain."

A manuscript from Urban VIII, which was located in the state archives state "Being desirous of making some recompense and remuneration to Cav. Gian Lorenzo Bernini for the Aqua Felice in Rome for the great and unusual trouble he has taken to introduce the extra water to the said Aqua Felice; and for the workmanship of manufacture and ornamentation of the fountain newly built in the square called de Barberini". Written on August 19, 1643 it is believed that the creation had started once Gian Lorenzo added an additional 300 ounces of water to the old Aqua Felice it wasn't until December 1642 that the water finally reached Rome.

Money was made from the fountain by selling water to two private citizens at a price of half of an once of water. Overall, he received 400 scudi. This price seemed high as the authorities of the city used to sell the exact same water for a high price of 200 scudi per ounce. This is known because there was an original manuscript that was signed.

While we do not have any information regarding payments to the individuals who built the fountain, it is really not that important. It is possible that the work of the fountain may have been created from a sketch by Bernini. This was found in the Lanciani Collection and is located in the Library of Archaeology and Art History in Rome.

Continue Reading about 3 Bernini Fountains: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5