A Chapter on Fountains.
In the Middle Ages, supply fountains consisted of a basin raised on steps; at the centre was a columnar stone construction for the adduction of the virgin water; in this, long spouts were fastened which carried the water to the edge of the basin and under which buckets could be placed. The fountain at Basle (Fig. 3) gives an idea of this form, as brought down to the period of the Renaissance; but it is very probable that it has been remodeled and restored at different epochs.
The small construction exhibited in Fig. 4 is a combination of a fountion, a laundry and a watering-place, designed in accordance with the above principle ; the water comes to the centre and issues into a large reservoir through four spouts, so disposed that vessels can be filled from them ; the four pentagonal basins at the angles serve as laundry tanks ; they receive the overflow from the central reservoir and accommodate sixteen washers. As for the four watering-troughs outside the timber-work covering the central basin and the laundry tanks at ordinary times they receive a portion of the overflow of the main reservoir ; but on market days they can be fed directly. The idea of roofing the basin is a very old one ; examples of its application are found in mediaeval fountains and in the greater part of the Turkish fountains.
The Fontana del Centauro at Florence (Fig. 11), is con. strutted on the general principle of very many of the small supply fountains in Italy. In a great many Italian houses, notably at Rome, there was no distribution of water twenty years ago through the different stories ; but in most dwellings there was a recess in the court, with a trough in it into which a stream of water poured through a lion’s head above ; from the kitchens of the different stories an iron wire ran out to this niche so that a bucket, furnished with a pulley rolling on the wire, could be lowered and raised from each at will.
Supply fountains in cities often also assumed decorative forms and became veritable monuments : such is the fountain in the Piazza at Fano (Fig. 6) ; it dates from the close of the sixteenth century. Such likewise is the fountain of Neptune by Lauretti at Bologna (Fig. 1), in the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele ; the bronze statue of the god was executed by John of Bologpa ; at the angles of the pedestal are four sirens, represented pressing their breasts to cause the water to flow from them ; this conception seems perhaps a little daring, especially when we remember that Bologna is an old papal city ; nevertheless we see nothing shocking or improper in thus indicating that water is as necessary to man as milk is to the babe ; these figures certainly have nothing in common with the indecent naivete displayed in the Manikin Fountain at Brussels.
From the French of Leon Benouville, in Planat’s Encyclopedic de I’Architecture et de la Construction—American Architect. Fig. 12 represents a decorative supply fountain at Braga, called the fountain of Passo. We reproduce in Fig. 5 the fountain of Jacques d’Amboise at Clermont-Ferrand, on the Cours du Sablon, which was completed in 1515. It comprises three series of basins made from Volvic lava The water falls first into six small basins borne on the central column, from these it overflows into the intermediary basin. It passes off through pipes and there is no overfall; we are reminded here of the principle on which the Gothic architects managed the distribution of water from their fountains.
In some supply fountains there is no basin, the fountain proper being merely a place for obtaining water. Structures of the kind, as for example, the Fontaine Jeanne cl’Arc, at Rouen (Fig. 8), are really monuments, the basements of which have been utilized for the insertion of water-spouts. The last-mentioned fountain was erected on the site of an older one of the sixteenth century, in 1756, after the plan and under the direction of Alexander Dubois, architect to the king in the generalty of Rouen ; the statue, which appears to represent Joan of Arc as Bellona, is by Paul-Ambroise Slodtz, of the Academy of Paris. Fig. 10 gives a sketch of the so-called “fountain of the Rue de Grenelle” at Paris. It was constructed in 1730 by Bouchatdon. The projecting portion shown here forms the centre of a demiellipse. This monument, very beautiful in itself, is compared by Voltaire in the Temple du Gout with the fountain of the Innocents, an illustration of which will be found below; in his opinion “this last yields the palm in every way to Bouchardon’s admirable fountain,” Diderot also speaks of it: “The beautiful fountain of the Rue de Grenelle—I say beautiful in regard to the figures; as for the rest I con sider it below mediocre.” Farther on he explains this restriction: ” There is no beautiful fountain in which the distribution of the water docs not form the principal decoration.’
The fact is that the first of these great constructions should be rather a commemorative monument ; as to the second which really offers only a couple of water-posts, it is of very great importance in recalling the gift made to the inhabitants of the quarter; Bouchardon’s talent alone could have turned such conditions to good account. From the standpoint of utility, one of the two dispositions presented in Fig. 13 would have answered. But for grand water posts, these are indeed grand.
Let us turn now to the subject of ornamental fountains ; although it is difficult to make a classification of these we will arrange them in two groups ; those serving as commemorative monuments and those in which no such purpose exists. These last are very numerous. We cite the fountain of the Tortoises, delle Tartarughe, at Rome (Fig. q), in the Piazza Tartaruga, by some attributed to Giacomo della Porta, by others to the Florentine Taddeo L&ndini; the fountain occupying the centre of the beautiful basin known as la vesea Jell’ isobtta in the Bobolli Garden at Florence, surmounted by a colossal statue of Oceanus by John of Bologna (Fig. 2). Fig. 7 shows another fountain in the same garden with a statue of Neptune by Stoldo Lorenzi.
At Rome may also be noted: the fountain in the Piazza Navona ; that of the Acqua Felice, which is well-known on account of the badly executed copy of the Moses of Michael Angelo and the death of the sculptor, Prospero Bresciano, consequent upon his failure; the fountain of the Monte Cavallo ; the Fontana del Tritone by Bernini; the fountains in the Piazza .San Pietro, and, lastly, the curious one in the Piazza di Spagna. Almost all the other Italian cities offer very beautiful examples, which it would take long even to enumerate.