Water sources for Two of Italy's Famous Fountains
Two wall fountains, positioned just behind the Labyrinth, where Tribolo had planned figurines to personify nearby fountains Asinaio and Falterone in the wall of the garden, supplied the water for the Anro and Mugnone wall fountains. The Asinaio was to be depicted wringing out his beard into the basin below these wall fountains. These statues were never completed and the tall niches covered with stalactites, appearing in the rear garden on either side of the grotto entrance remain empty. The only feature in this area is an unusually low simple water spout and basin. During the time that Tribolo was working on the wall fountains in the Medicean gardens at Castello, he made the addition of the adjoining villa Cristofano Rinieri, a third river God. This river God was constructed out of the same gray sandstone in a single niche style that stood at the end of a pool.
This statue survived in its original site and featured water falling from the urn he held and into the basin below, which was decorated with lions’ heads. The statue was located in the Villa Corsini, but today stands in the niche of another period and has been since separated from its basin. This statue instead forms part of a baroque fountain. The influence of Michelangelo can be seen in the dynamic pose of the river God when compared with the Ignudi of the Sistine ceiling. The structure of the head was most likely inspired by the ancient Roman statue, known as “Pasquino”. The water again fell from the urn, this time positioned between the legs of the figure and into the very large basin. The curved lips and baroque profile, reflecting the form designed for the wall fountains of Arno and Mugnone, flanked two decorative birdbaths.
It is suspected that the background of the original niche, and possibly the entire surface, was composed of stalactites like those that still remain attached to the legs and the urn. This seated river God statue adds to the importance of the new motif in a Renaissance wall fountain. Prior fountains and statues had depicted the river Gods in classical recumbent positions. This static pose remained the typical form throughout the sixteenth century. It is known that Tribolo carved these wall fountains during the time he was employed at the Medicean villa of Castello. This puts their creation date to be between the year 1538, when the work on the gardens of Castello began under Cosimo I, and 1550, the year of Tribolo’s death.