Multiple Niche Wall Fountains in Florence: Not An Everyday Find
A marble Perseus wall fountain, representing the act of slaying a dragon, stands against a tall arched niche of pietra serena. The unnatural setting of the fountain, placing it above a formal pedestal of bisbalo, upon an oval marble basin, features water that flows from slender metal tubes in the mouth of the monster into the basin. Defined by baroque style, this character of the consoles denotes the pilasters that frame the niche, profile and grotesques of the water basin. The brackets on the pedestal, the curved lines and momentary pose of the Peresus show the sculptor’s created of the marble to contrast the softness of the body. These characterisitics imply a creation date in the last quarter of the sixteenth century. While this is a speculative time frame, documentation supports this hypothesis. This wall fountain originally stood in the Palazzo Salviati, which later became known as the Palazzo Obelisk, is now owned by Banca del Credito Toscano. After the adding by the municipality in 1881, they desired a creation in the convent of San Salvi. A creation of Perseus of marble, four and a third braccia high, was later created and can be seen in the house of Jacopo Salviati. The origination of the figure in the Palazzo Obelisk, along with the measurements, the idenitification of this wonderful water feature is solved.
Since the wall fountain is not mentioned in Vasari’s brief writings of the young Battista Lorenzi’s work, it is hypothesized that the fountain was most likely created after 1568. It is important to note that a similar curved linage and pagan design, contrasting the softness of reality appear in Battista Lorenzi’s figure of Painting, which is located to the left of Michelangelo’s tomb in Santa Croce. This statue is believed to represent the art of sculpture because of the bozzetto held by the figure. This bozzetto was wrongly given to Valerio Cioli. The free standing simple wall fountain style was rare in Florence and most free standing wall fountains were quote elaborate with ornamentation. This takes us to Rome where we can discuss the extensive development of this type of wall fountain. Still, it is important to note, that the earliest of wall fountains were more of an elaborate style and were constructed during the sixteenth century by two Florentine sculptors, Michelangelo and Ammannati. In the year 1536, Michelangelo designed the present day feature of the Campidogoli in Rome. This features a façade of the Palazzo Senatorio. According to Michelangelo’s plan, known from Duperac’s copy of 1569, the triangles created by the stairs, positioned on either side, were embellished with two ancient statues of river Gods that had been recently excavated. A very large figure of Jupiter was positioned at the center of the niche, filling it completely. Michelangelo’s plans called for a wall fountain as it is known that three water jets appeared on Duperac’s engraving on each side of the wall fountain. The brushes and palette, held by the figure, also help to solidify the connection that the art was represented.