The grand fountain of Dea (Fountain of Rome’s Goddess; Fontana della Dea) is on the top of the famous Capitoline Hill, right on Capitoline Square. It enhances the front of Palazzo Senatorio, a monumental backdrop in Piazza del Campidoglio.
Initially conceived by Michelangelo, the central niche was intended for a statue of Jupiter, later replaced by a towering figure of Minerva, initially situated in the Palazzo dei Conservatori’s courtyard during the era of Paul III Farnese.
During the square’s redesign in 1538, Michelangelo incorporated colossal marble statues, initially representing the Nile and the Tigris but transformed into the Tiber with the addition of the she-wolf and twins, sourced from the Baths of Constantine on the Quirinal Hill.
In 1588, to commemorate the Felice Aqueduct’s construction, Matteo Bartolini da Castello designed a fountain with two stacked white Greek marble basins adorned with coats of arms, seamlessly integrating with Michelangelo’s overall square design.
Finally, in 1593, during the time of Clement VIII Aldobrandini, the original standing Minerva statue within the niche was replaced with a smaller porphyry and marble version. This new depiction showed Minerva, later reinterpreted as the Goddess Roma, seated and holding a spear in her left hand and a sphere in her right, positioned on three successive bases.
Read also about Michelangelo’s Pieta in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Author: Kate Zusmann
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