An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part XVII

Bernini's Fontana del Tritone in Rome's Piazza Barberini (LEO Design)

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish. 

A handsome—though somewhat overwhelmed—token of relaxation stands at the center of the hectic Piazza Barberini in Rome. It is Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Fontana del Tritone (Triton Fountain) carved in travertine marble, a commission from Bernini's great patron, Pope Urban VIII (who was a member of the Barberini family). A kneeling "merman" kneels atop the uplifted tails of four dolphins—and he blows a stream of water through a conch shell. The pope's Papal Crest is centered beneath the muscular figure and the classic "Bernini Bees" alight upon the dolphins' tails. It was carved by Bernini in 1642-1643, and finished a year before Bernini's great papal patron died.

The heavenward jet of water is reportedly much reduced from its original height and the piazza has been sadly "modernized" since the fountain was first installed. Nevertheless, the alluring fountain still gives certain visitors a little frisson of pleasure—as it may have excited 17th Century housewives, coming to the community fountain to collect a morning bucket of drinking water.

We'll continue our summer holiday tomorrow. 


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