A Real Roman Wonder: The Santa Maria Water Fountain in Cosmedin

Archaeologists and restorers alike have stumbled upon a wealth of heathen and Christian artifacts on the grounds of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. The nearby basilica is largely for the marble sculpture known as the Bocca della Verità, (Mouth of Truth) located in its portico. The location of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin fountain (1719) was not in a well-known neighborhood and was, therefore, not frequently visited. Since the nearby area was gloomy and mostly abandoned, people were not particularly interested in visiting it. As part of a project to modernize the piazza outside the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, the Italian architect Carlo Bizzaccheri was commissioned by Pope Clement XI to design a fountain. p_710__82007.jpg August 11, 1717 marked the date when construction on the church’s foundation commenced. The consecration of the first rock to be placed in the foundation was followed by medals being thrown in bearing the images of the Blessed Virgin, for whom the church is named, and St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of water.

The Reason for Water Features in Japanese Gardens

A water feature is an important part of any Japanese garden. The Japanese water fountain is considered representative of spiritual and physical cleaning, so it is typically placed in or near the doorways of temples or homes. Since water is the most important component of any Japanese fountain, the design is generally simple.

You will also see many fountains that have spouts crafted of bamboo. Under the bamboo spout is generally a stone basin which receives the water as it flows down from the spout. Even when new, it should be crafted to look as if it has been out in the open for a long time. Natural elements such as plants and rocks are commonly put in place around a fountain so that it seems more interconnected with nature. To the owner of the fountain, it clearly is more than just nice decor.

For something a bit more unique, start with a bed of gravel, add a stone fountain, and then embellish it artistically with live bamboo and other natural elements. Over the years it starts to really blend into the surrounding nature as moss covers the stone.

More substantial water features can be created if there is enough open land. Popular water feature additions are a koi pond or any sort of small pool, or even a meandering brook.

Japanese fountains, on the other hand, do not really need to have water in them. Lots of people prefer to represent water with sand, gravel, or rocks rather than putting in actual water. You can also gather flat stones and place them close enough together that they look like water in motion.

The Roman Water Fountains of Michelangelo

During the 16th century two famous Florentine sculptors by the names of Michelangelo and Ammannati designed the first wall features in Rome.

The earliest fountain Michelangelo created came in 1536 with the construction of the Campidoglio in Rome which was to make part of the Palazzo Senatorio's façade. Constructed some years later, a conduit from the Aqua Felice was added which carried water into the Capitol allowing a greater water display. Michelangelo had foreseen this, however, and built a bigger basin styled on the art of the late Cinquecento.

Was the famed artist the inventor of the wall fountain? The sculptor’s designs definitely impacted the future style of fountains in Italy. The Fountain of the River Gods at the Villa Lante, Bagnaia 1, and the Fountain of the Mugnone found between flights of stairs on the main axis of the Villa Pratolino are further examples of this type of structure.

Regrettably, Michelangelo was destined to put his own brilliance aside and combine classical elements into fountains based on Roman styles. A new fountain at the top of the Belvedere in the Vatican was commissioned by Julius III (1550-1555) and it fell to the great sculptor to create a unique structure. The fountain was to be adorned with a marble depiction of Moses hitting a stone from which water flowed. Unfortunately for the sculptor, this plan was denied because it would take a lot of time to build and a classic statue of Cleopatra was used instead. A design by the well-known artist was thought to be too time-consuming, therefore, an ancient sculpture placed above the fountain seemed to be a better choice.


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