The Moro fountain
The so-called Moro fountain is one of the three fountains arranged in a straight line from one end of Navona Square to the other.
It lies at the southern end of this peculiarly shaped eliptical square, and was built as part of vast project undertaken at the end of the XVI century by pope Gregorio XIII to renovate and reactivate The Vergin aqueduct, build by Agrippa in 19 BC.
This ambitious project foresaw the building of fountains in all the main squares of the town wich were then supplied whit water by means of new pipes arteries leading off from the aqueduct, all whitin a sistem of waterways built to cater for both public and private requirements.
Before all these fountains were built the people of Rome actually ad to drink water from the River Tiber that was collected upstream, stored for a number of days and then sold by the vendors known as "Aquarenari".
In the fountains with water supplied by the Virgin Aqueduct, the play of sputing water was still a far cry from those devised later in "Baroque times" as the level of the acqueducts was too low: water was made to spout out in small jets or thin sheets of spry.
The results later archivied by Bernini in the Four Rivers Fountains were made possible by increasing the strength of jets of water supplied by the Acqua Paola Aqueduct.
The fountains were chiefly designed and executed by Giacomo Della Porta, in collaboration whit Bartolomeo Gritti and a team of sculptors and assistants.
More or less the same style was adopted for each of the fountains: the basins are shaped in the form of either "chalices" or "canthari", and decorative elements are styled as dolphins, tritons, theatre masks (human faces and animal masks inspired from the repertoires of classical antiquity) and shells.
Giacomo Della Porta designed and planned the fountains and both ends of Piazza Navona which were separates by enormous drinking trough for horses in the centre of the square, wich was later transferred to the "Giardino del Lago" (lake garden) in "villa Borghese".
In 1574, the artist appointed Ludovico Rossi to the task of actually building the fountains but this sculptur was not able to complete the work within the estabilished time: in 1576 a new contract was drawn op weereby two parapets were to the built in travertine.
The team of artists, headed by Della Porta, was working on a number of different fountains all at once, in an effort to complete a significant number of functional public monuments in as short a space o time as was possible. An example of this is to be found in the fountain build at the same time in Piazza Navona and in Piazza della Rotonda.
The history of Pantheon fountain is in fact very closely bound up whit the history of the fountains that had been planned for Piazza Navona.
These fountains are made of "portasanta" marble with mixtlinear basins (according to the fashion of fusing a circle with a rectangle) and for both fountains, sculpted Mannerist style decoration were designed, four large masks interspersed with four tritons.
The Moro fountain on the south side was completed in the 1575 and was in fact adorned with the decorations that had originally been planned for it (taken from the fountain that Della Porta himself had built the previous year in Piazza del Popolo), as a well as with a balustrade with two steps running around the outer edge, tracing the same shape as the fountain basin itself.
However, decorations were never actually applied to the fountain at the northern end, due to lack of founds, and the marine sculpture that had already been completed were used instead to adorn the Piazza della Rotonda fountain.
The group of sculptures that decorated The Moro fountain were late trasferred to a small square in Villa Borghese, and the original masks and triton figures were substituded with copies made by Luigi Amici (1874).
The central sculpted group depicting "the Moro" figure (or darked-skinned man) wrestling whit a dolphin, from which the fountain obtained its final name, was the work of Antonio Mari (1654), executed according to designs by Bernini: whereas Bernini himself was responsible of the execution of the pool around the fountain basin, based on a plan designed by Borromini.
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