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

Amazing finds of both Christian and pagan origin have been made by archaeologists and restorers in the area of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. Situated in the portico of the nearby basilica one can see the acclaimed marble sculpture known as the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth). When the Santa Maria in Cosmedin water fountain was constructed in 1719, it was off the beaten track and mostly unknown as a result. The part of town where it was situated was depressing and bleak which was enough to keep people away. 50024plbz__07215.jpg It was a this time that Pope Clement XI commissioned the Italian architect Carlo Bizzaccheri to put up a water fountain to modernize the square outside the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. August 11, 1717 saw the beginning of the task to lay down the foundation of the church. After blessing of the first stone, medals with the illustration of the Blessed Virgin, for whom the church is named, and of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of water, were thrown into the foundation.

"Old School" Fountain Creative Designers

Multi-talented people, fountain artists from the 16th to the late 18th century often worked as architects, sculptors, artists, engineers and cultivated scholars all in one. Leonardo da Vinci, a Renaissance artist, was celebrated as a inventive master, inventor and scientific expert. With his immense fascination concerning the forces of nature, he explored the attributes and motion of water and also systematically documented his observations in his now famed notebooks. Early Italian water feature engineers transformed private villa settings into amazing water showcases full with emblematic meaning and natural beauty by coupling creativity with hydraulic and gardening expertise. The humanist Pirro Ligorio, celebrated for his virtuosity in archeology, architecture and garden design, delivered the vision behind the wonders in Tivoli. Well versed in humanistic subjects as well as ancient scientific texts, some other water feature designers were masterminding the excellent water marbles, water properties and water antics for the numerous lands near Florence.

Where did Garden Water Fountains Begin?

A fountain, an amazing piece of engineering, not only supplies drinking water as it pours into a basin, it can also launch water high into the air for an extraordinary effect.

Pure practicality was the original purpose of fountains. Residents of cities, townships and small towns utilized them as a source of drinking water and a place to wash up, which meant that fountains needed to be connected to nearby aqueduct or spring. Until the late nineteenth, century most water fountains functioned using the force of gravity to allow water to flow or jet into the air, therefore, they needed a supply of water such as a reservoir or aqueduct located higher than the fountain.

Designers thought of fountains as amazing additions to a living space, however, the fountains also served to supply clean water and celebrate the designer responsible for creating it. Animals or heroes made of bronze or stone masks were often utilized by Romans to decorate their fountains. To illustrate the gardens of paradise, Muslim and Moorish garden planners of the Middle Ages introduced fountains to their designs. Fountains enjoyed a significant role in the Gardens of Versailles, all part of French King Louis XIV’s desire to exercise his power over nature. The Romans of the 17th and 18th centuries created baroque decorative fountains to glorify the Popes who commissioned them as well as to mark the spot where the restored Roman aqueducts entered the city.

Indoor plumbing became the main source of water by the end of the 19th century thereby limiting urban fountains to mere decorative elements. Fountains using mechanical pumps instead of gravity allowed fountains to bring recycled water into living spaces as well as create special water effects.

Modern-day fountains serve mostly as decoration for open spaces, to honor individuals or events, and compliment entertainment and recreational events.

The Distribution of Water Fountain Manufacturing Knowledge in Europe

Throughout the European countries, the primary means of spreading practical hydraulic facts and fountain design ideas were the circulated papers and illustrated books of the day, which added to the development of scientific development. A globally renowned pioneer in hydraulics in the late 1500's was a French water fountain engineer, whose name has been lost to history. His know-how in designing landscapes and grottoes with built-in and imaginative water features began in Italy and with mandates in Brussels, London and Germany. The text, “The Principles of Moving Forces,” penned towards the end of his life in France, turned into the definitive text on hydraulic mechanics and engineering. Replacing principal hydraulic discoveries of classical antiquity, the book also explains contemporary hydraulic technologies. Archimedes, the developer of the water screw, had his work showcased and these included a mechanical way to move water.

Two concealed containers heated by sunlight in a room next to the decorative fountain were found in an illustration. Activating the water feature is heated water that expands and ascends to close up the pipes. Pumps, water wheels, water attributes and backyard pond styles are mentioned in the text.

The Father Of Roman Water Fountain Design

In Rome’s city center, there are countless celebrated public fountains. Almost all of them were planned, conceived and constructed by one of the greatest sculptors and designers of the 17th century, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Also a city architect, he had capabilities as a fountain designer, and remnants of his life's work are evident throughout the streets of Rome. Bernini's father, a renowned Florentine sculptor, mentored his young son, and they ultimately moved to Rome, in order to fully express their art, primarily in the form of public water fountains and water features. An outstanding worker, Bernin earned praise and the the backing of popes and well known painters. He was initially recognized for his sculpture.

He used his expertise and melded it gracefully with Roman marble, most significantly in the Vatican. Although many artists had an influence on his work, Michelangelo had the most profound effect.


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