Salome. The Fontana Maggiore, Perugia


Salome. The Fontana Maggiore, Perugia



The Fontana Maggiore, Perugia

The Fontana Maggiore, or Main Fountain, was built to celebrate the construction of the aqueduct that brought water to Perugia from the springs of Paciano, a mountain about five miles from the city center. The aqueduct was completed in 1278. The Fountain was built and decorated by Nicola Pisano (1220-c.1280) and his son Giovanni (1245-1320) between 1277 and 1278.

The Fontana Maggiore represents the masterpiece of Perugia and it is one of the most interesting and beautiful fountains of the 13th century anywhere. Its decorations are undoubtedly focused towards the civic values of man, his activities and accomplishments during his life on earth.

The Fountain is composed of two polygonal basins, the upper one with a smaller diameter. Over the upper basin there is a bronze round vessel, seven feet in diameter, with three bronze statues holding over their heads an amphora from which water pours.

The middle basin is composed of several panels without decoration. On each of the 24 angles where the panels meet there is a small statue sculpted out of Carrara white marble. It is a gallery of statues that presents biblical personages, symbolic figures in addition to real and mythical people of the history of Perugia and of the world. Some of these sculptures represent well established typological figures—as Moses, David, Melchizedek and John the Baptist who pre-figure or anticipate Christ. Others are figurae in malo—as Salomé and the Traitor cleric (figure 12)—or figurae in bono, as St. Ercolano, the good cleric (figure 6), etc. The names of the statues with a brief caption are given below.

The viewing of the middle basin sculptures should begin, again on the side of Palazzo Vescovile, from the statue of St. Peter and proceeding counterclockwise. Thus the last statue of the cycle will be that of Victory.



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