Salvi has deftly combined formal references to imperial arches of triumph and

Salvi has deftly combined formal references to

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Salvi has deftly combined formal references to imperial arches of triumph and the colossal order of the Renaissance, elements featured in both vignettes of Nolli’s map, with the scenographic unity characteristic of the baroque.The architectonic structure is packed with all the sculptural decoration it can hold, not more.The sculptures were contracted to various artists who despite their legal protests were forced to subordinate their work to Salvi’s commanding architectural scansion. One stumbles upon the site on this edge of the eighteenth- century city quite by surprise, as the engraved image by Piranesi of the fountain and the piazza shows.Attracted perhaps by the splashing sounds, we are drawn into a delightful episode in the urban fabric. The jump in scale of Salvi’s construction provides a powerful impact 26 the architecture of modern italy
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for this unexpectedly grand public event, like the grandiose architectures of contemporary festivals or the fantasies of the lyric opera stage. Here water has taken center stage in an engaging spectacle of cascading forms.Water is the source of salubrity and fertility and nourishes all growing things, represented by all the accompanying sculptures here and focused by Ocean’s magisterial presence. Classical allegory is the basis here of a contemporary philosophical program typical of Enlightenment interests in the natural sciences.Thirty species of flora minutely described and artfully disposed upon the rocks emphasize an encyclopedic spirit. The natural and the artificial, the tectonic and the fluid, are intermingled in continual transformation one into the other.The themes of this poem in stone and water suggest an exaltation of water’s vital energy in the cycle of self-renewal, time and decay, ruin and regeneration. At Levi, Christ turned water into wine; at the Trevi, Clement XII turned wine into water: construction of the fountain was financed with proceeds from the lottery and a tax on wine. Salvi hired a learned and sensitive building contractor for the work, Nicola Giobbe, and he also relied on close collaboration with Luigi Vanvitelli. When Salvi’s health gave way following a stroke in 1744 (due to too many subterranean visits to the aqueduct, it was thought), the direction of the work was eventually shifted to Giuseppe Panini, son of the famous painter, who oversaw its completion in 1762. The response to the Trevi Fountain was overwhelmingly positive. Salvi was catapulted to fame, receiving invitations to finish up the cathedral of Milan with a new facade and build a palace for the royal family in Naples. Even the stern critic Milizia who preferred utilitarian works conceded that the Trevi was “superb, grandiose, rich and altogether of a surprising beauty...nothing in this century in Rome is more magnificent.”The Trevi Fountain cannot be considered either a precursor of neoclassical rigor nor a pure product of baroque exuberance. Salvi’s subtle shift toward a knowledgeable, historicist ensemble is evidence of a significant
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  • Spring '17
  • Archt. De Veyra

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