Scossa Cavali

This work of Carlo Maderno belongs to that group of fountains which owe their origin to the introduction into Rome of the Acqua Paola. The lower basin stands about three feet above the level of the pavement. It is oblong in shape, the oval broken at both ends by graceful variations in the curve. The secondary basin is much smaller, round and quite shallow. From its centre rises a richly carved cup much resembling a Corinthian capital, this cup being the apex of the central shaft, upon which rests the second basin, and the main stream of water spouts upward from its leaflike convolutions. The proportions of the fountain are excellent. It is neither too low nor too high, and the lower basin is large enough to catch and retain the water which pours over the rim of the upper basin, so that it does not wash over as does the water in Maderno’s much more magnificent fountain in the Square of St.Peter’s. The central shaft of the Scossa Cavalli fountain has a Doric massiveness which gives a background of strength to the whole design and makes all the more delicate the play of the four slender jets of water, about five feet in height, which, rising at equal intervals from the lower basin, form an arch around the upper basin into whose shallow water they fling their spray. The crowned eagle and griffin of the Borghese are still to be discerned on the half-obliterated carving of the central shaft. The kind of travertine out of which this fountain is made is so susceptible to erosion, and has become so blackened by the deposit of the water, that the whole structure appears far older than it is. In reality it has stood here little more than three hundred years, as the Acqua Paola was not brought to Rome until the time of Pope Paul V. This splendor-loving pontiff determined, on his accession in 16o5, to emulate and, if possible, surpass Pope Sixtus V, whose brilliant pontificate antedated his own by less than a score of years. Sixtus V had built the first great aqueduct of modern Rome. Paul V determined to build the second. Sixtus V had christened after himself the water which he had brought to Rome, and Paul V gave bis name to the stream which, partly by using the all but ruined Aque¬≠duct of Trajan, he had brought from Bracciano and its hills. Domenico Fontana had built for Sixtus V, as the chief outlet for the Acqua Felice, the fine Fountain of the Moses on the Viminal Hill.

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