Fountain of the Triton, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Italian Baroque, Piazza Barberini, Rome, Italy, 1642—1643


Promoter: Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini)
Sculptor: Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Universal Artist)
Official name: Triton Fountain (Fontana del Tritone)
Genre: Mythological
Material: Travertine marble
Height: 6 meters
Date of realization: 1642-1643
Style: Italian Baroque (Rococo)
Location: Piazza Barberini, Rome, Italy
Restorations: 1932; 1998; 2014

As a culmination of the rehabilitation of the Palazzo Barberini annex, which he carries out with his usual group of collaborators, among whom was his eternal rival, the architect, Maderno's nephew, Francesco Borromini, the Pope Urban VIII entrusted Bernini back in 1641 to a monumental fountain that gave identity to Piazza Barberini in Rome. The iconic fountain created by Bernini, which focuses all the attention of Piazza Barberini in Rome, is formed by a muscular triton, (God of the Sea and son of Poseidon, which in mythology appears represented with a human torso and tail of fish), which, kneeling on a large shell of open mollusk, holds with its hands a conch that makes a sound of sound and from which flows a stream of water, "to provoke storms or to modulate a delicate melody of peace". No doubt the work has brought great prestige to this central area of ​​Rome, becoming a great tourist attraction for the city.

above, detail of the triton and original sketch made by Bernini with the pictorial technique of sanguine on paper, creative process that had already been used in the Italian Renaissance "The Divine" Michelangelo; from a drawing I make a sculpture ...; below, Representative coat of Pope Urban VIII, who became not only the principal patron of Bernini, but also his best friend.

Due to its colossalism, together with the Fontana of Trevi and the Source de los Cuatro Ríos, -works where the great multidisciplinary artist of the Italian Baroque took part Gian Lorenzo Bernini-, this is undoubtedly one of the most famous sources in Rome. 11 are the viaducts that carried water to the city of Rome and were built over 500 years of history. In the Italian Baroque, competitions for the rehabilitation of buildings and public spaces, particularly plazas and especially fountains, became very fashionable. Hydraulic engineering, together with the great vocation of the popes, made it possible to build monumental fountains at the end point of each viaduct in commemoration. In order to improve the conservation status of the beautiful monument created by Bernini, it has been necessary to carry out different restoration tasks. For this, the Triton Fountain (Fontana del Tritone) has been restored to date three times: 1932, 1998 and 2014.

For the first restoration, the most "traumatic" and which was concluded just two years after the inauguration of the famous Chrysler Building in New York, it was necessary to eliminate the gross incrustations that had occurred over the centuries. One of the curiosities of this first restoration carried out in 1932 was that due to the great beauty and whiteness of the monument, -it seemed a totally new work taken directly from the workshop-, alarmed, the local media itself published the news that a tragic event had taken place in the city of Rome, as it seemed that they had stolen the very original sculpture carved by Bernini, replacing it with a copy. After the next restoration carried out in 1998, on November 19, 2014, and thanks to eleven months of hard work, the beautiful Fountain of the Triton could be enjoyed again in all its splendor, since apart from eliminating Calcareous layers and biological patinas that are often mixed with limestone, a special water treatment in the closed circuit was added, as well as LED lighting.

The last and exhaustive restoration carried out between 2013 and 2014, reveals how Bernini carved the sculpture in several marble blocks, renouncing the Renaissance sculptural conception, according to which the sculpture should be made of a single block of marble. For the mechanical and chemical cleaning, different materials were used, such as hammer and chisel, sandblasting, scalpel, and ion exchange resins. The fillings were made with hydraulic lime mortar, sand and marble powder of appropriate colors and grain sizes for the intervention areas. In addition, the bathtub and the protective metal fence were also restored, much damaged in recent years. Every sculptural work located in the open air deteriorates inescapably with the passage of time, so the maintenance work of this type of emblematic monuments becomes absolutely essential every so often; below, other nice details and profile view.

The base of the monumental sculpture is formed by the body of four dolphins, which are presented with their mouths open, forming a kind of pedestal, among which are represented different symbols of the shields of the Papacy and the Barberini family, as the crown, keys or bees, in clear allusion to the promoter of the work, Maffeo Barberini (Urban VIII); nevertheless, the size of the dolphins is proportional to the figure of the newt.

The order of the Fountain of the Triton takes place in a truly tragic time for Bernini, which will leave him in a great depression, since he still has great consequences of the failed project of the towers of San Pedro, in addition to the loving betrayal starring Constanza Bonarelli (her "eternal beloved") and her little brother Luigi, who left him forever marked. The Triton Fountain in Piazza Barberini in Rome is supplied with water by the Aqua Felice Viaduct (Happy Water), which reuses the route of an ancient Roman aqueduct, the Aqua Alexandrina, which was restored by Pope Sixtus V and completed in 1587 If you are thinking about traveling to the eternal city, Gian Lorenzo Bernini's famous Triton Fountain should undoubtedly be one of the must-see visits to Rome.

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Drawing Shield Urban VIII © Creative Commons link
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© José Miguel Hernández Hernández
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