Toll Free (800) 920-7457
It is interesting to study the statues of the Trevi Fountain. The four female statues that are featured at the top of the fountain actually do not represent the seasons, but represent the “effects of rain and the fecundity of the Earth caused by watering”. These were sculpted exactly as the architect wanted, as well as the two female statues below the bas-reliefs. The hardest part for Salvi was the center grouping consisting of the colossal Neptune in his chariot, the two tritons and their two horses. Surprisngly the problem was a not a technical one, but an argument with the sculptor Gian Battista Maini. This scultpr also imitated the style of Bernini, and was actually, in this day, much better known and important than Salvi. He also held the position of “Prince” of the Accademia di San Luca in 1746 and 1747. 

A letter exists, although unpublished, that explains this dispute. It was dictated by Salvi and addressed to Cardinal Neri Maria Corsini, the nephew of the Pope and the Superintendent for buildings. The later is dated to 1740. When reading the letter below, take careful notice that besides airing his grievances we learn that Salvi’s powers were quite limited, which is rather surprising giving the enormity of the project. “I wish to lay before your eyes and for Your Eminence’s attention these few reflections on how to express the “Neptune group”, which is the main theme I have introduced into the Trevi fountain, though I justly fear this may bring upon me the accusation either of taking too much upon myself and going too far in my operations, or of being too zealous, as if I wanted to exceed my remit as Architect and step unscrupulously into another’s province by opposing a Professor who is so celebrated for the number and perfection of his works – I who, so to speak, am only now beginning to emerge from my private labors and from the walls of my studio to make my name known to the Public. Yet I must in part condemn what Mr. Franco Maini, the worthy professor chosen to create the said group, has decided to do. But what [else] could I do if Mr. Maini, by choosing to arrange the group in a way that (if I am allowed to say so) is the exact opposite of fair and decent, has made it necessary to upset the position I had established for the rocks and the water falling from them; and if, when I several times put to him, personally and in private, all those reasons that justified my decision, these not only met with disfavor, not only went totally unconsidered despite being based strictly upon fundamental principles, but were not even refuted – as is the way of reasonable experts – with other observations, if only of a kind to inform me of errors I may easily have made and of the grounds for his preference which, certain of my own abilities, I may not have realized for myself…”