Marforio Wall Fountains: a Michelangelo Creation
Replacing Jupiter in 1579, a very large Minerva was placed in the central niche. By 1591, this fountain was replacement by a small porphyry fountain depicting a seated goddess that had been restored as Roma. For a much stronger water fountain effect than Michelangelo had planner, in 1587, a conduit from Acqua Felice, in the late Cinquecento style, was brought to the Capitol. The concept of placing a wall fountain in the space between merging flights of stairs seems to have originated out of the mind of Michelangelo. His ideas helped to establish this type of wall fountain in Italy. In later years, this type of wall fountain was show in the Fountain of the River Gods at the Villa Lante, Bagnaia, and the Wall Fountain of the Mugnone, set between flights of stairs on the main axis of the Villa of Pratolino.
Taking classical style pieces into wall fountains, Michelangelo created these water features in Roman manner rather than his own typical style. He designed a fountain at the main point of the corridor of the Belvedere in the Vatican at the direction of Julius III (1550-1555). The fountain featured a marble figure out of his own carving, Moses striking the rock, out of which water was to flow. Michelangelo had hoped that his inclusion of the Moses sculpture, a Biblical feature, would appeal to the Pope. Unfortunately, Julius III was not pleased with the design due to the extensive amount of time that would be cost to create the entire fountain out of marble. As a replacement, the Pope made a decision out of which produced Adriadne of the Vatican, also known as the ancient figure Cleopatra. Made out of stucco, the grotto was created by wall fountain sculptor Daniele da Volterra.
The extensive collection of classical statuary in Rome discouraged the production of originals during the Cinquecento. For many artists, it was quite a bit easier to create a mock up of an ancient figure than to proposition an artist for the creation of a contemporary piece. It should also be noted that the classical figures seemed to always add a bit of respect accompanied an antique figure in the sixteenth century water feature movement in Rome. Michelangelo’s idea of including Moses into water features came around with artist Prospero Bresciano in the Mostra of the Acqua Felice and again in the courtyard wall fountain of the Archiepiscopal Palace at Pisa, created by Flaminio Vacca.