Water Features Lost to History

As initially developed, fountains were crafted to be functional, directing water from streams or aqueducts to the residents of cities and villages, where the water could be used for cooking food, washing, and drinking. In the days before electrical power, the spray of fountains was driven by gravity exclusively, usually using an aqueduct or water supply located far away in the nearby mountains. Fountains throughout history have been crafted as memorials, impressing local citizens and travelers alike. When you enjoy a fountain nowadays, that is not what the very first water fountains looked like. The very first accepted water fountain was a stone basin created that served as a receptacle for drinking water and ceremonial functions. p_702__45658.jpg 2,000 B.C. is when the earliest known stone fountain basins were actually used. The first fountains put to use in ancient civilizations depended on gravity to regulate the movement of water through the fountain. Located near aqueducts or creeks, the functional public water fountains furnished the local residents with fresh drinking water. The people of Rome began constructing decorative fountains in 6 B.C., most of which were metallic or stone masks of animals and mythological characters. The Romans had an elaborate system of aqueducts that supplied the water for the countless fountains that were situated throughout the community.

A True Roman Masterpiece: The Santa Maria Water Fountain in Cosmedin

Both Christian and pagan artifacts have been found in by the load by archaeologists and restorers scouring the area of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. The Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth} is a famed marble sculpture found at the entrance of the nearby basilica. The location of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin fountain (1719) was not in a well-known area and was, therefore, not frequently visited. It was said that there was nothing worth seeing in this area because it was bleak and desolate making it an unfriendly place to visit. In order to refurbish the square outside the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Pope Clement XI commissioned an Italian architect by the name of Carlo Bizzaccheri to design a water fountain for the area. August 11, 1717 saw the start of the job to put down the foundation of the church. Medals bearing the imagery of the Blessed Virgin, for whom the church is named, and of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of water, were thrown in the foundation following the blessing of the first stone.

Roman Wall Fountains: Michelangelo’s Chef d'Oeuvre

During the 16th century two famous Florentine sculptors by the names of Michelangelo and Ammannati designed the first wall features in Rome. In 1536 Michelangelo’s first fountain in the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, part of the façade of the Palazzo Senatorio, was revealed. A conduit from the Aqua Felice was built later and it delivered water to the Capitol making a more impressive water effect possible.

Styled on the late Cinquecento, Michelangelo created a larger basin, anticipating the construction of the conduit.

Was the famed artist the originator of the wall fountain? The fountain styles found in Italy undeniably show the influence of his designs. More examples of this sort of structure can be seen in the Fountain of the River Gods at the Villa Lante, Bagnaia 1, and the Fountain of the Mugnone which is set between flights of stairs on the central axis of the Villa Pratolino.

Michelangelo’s amazing talent was put aside because he was compelled to design fountains combining classical elements and a Roman style. A new fountain at the top of the Belvedere in the Vatican was authorized by Julius III (1550-1555) and it fell to the talented artist to create an archetypal structure. The famed artist was commissioned to design a marble figure of Moses striking a stone from which water flowed. The idea of the Moses figure was dismissed, however, because of the time it would take to create it and was therefore replaced by an antique image of Cleopatra. It was thought easier to use a traditional sculpture above the fountain rather than have the illustrious artist design a totally new figure.


Pick from all Sorts of Outdoor Fountains
The trend of installing solar powered fountains is becoming increasingly prevalent. The reasons for this are diverse, from the lack of wires and the reduced complexities to the lower power bills and the beneficial effects on our environment.... read more
Choose from all Sorts of Outdoor Water Features
The trend of installing solar powered fountains is becoming increasingly widespread. The reasons for this are diverse, from the absence of wires and... read more