A powerful civic symbol in the middle of the "Campo"
The project of Fonte Gaia devised by Jacopo della Quercia, took a little longer than ten years from start to finish in 1419.Such a powerful civic symbol, placed right in the middle of the Campo, was decorated with relieves picturing Madonna, protector of the city, and flanked by the Virtues, necessary inspiration for the Good Government of the city. On the left and righ sides were placed two female statues.
The frail limestone of the nearby Montagnola senese used to build Fonte Gaia, and the impact of daily life in the Campo have been the causes of its decay. A major damage was caused in 1743 during the Palio horse race by a member of the public who, in the attempt to gain a better viewpoint, climbed up one of the statues and made it fall down in pieces.
In 1859 the decision was taken to replace Jacopo's fount with a copy made of the harder Carrara marble, for which job the sienese purist sculptor Tito Sarocchi was commissioned. However, Sarrocchi did not replicate the two female statues because of their nakedness. The monument, still in its place in the Campo nowadays, was unveiled ten years later and was protected with a railing made by the architect Giuseppe Partini.
In the first half of twentieth century the two female statues were identified as the mother, Rea Silvia, and the wet-nurse, Acca Larenzia, of Romolo and Remo. Two figures that therefore represent Siena's discendence from Rome. Acca Larentia is depicted bare-chested with Romolo and Remo. It is an early example of female nude. The figure is characterised by the incredibily tenderness of her naked body and the sense of physical concreteness. The movements in the curved planes of the drapery derives from a naturalistic sensibility of gothic imprint.
The Virtues: Wisdom
The construction of the fountain was intended to expand the nobling significance to the frame surrounding the water. The Virtues, including Wisdom, evoked the good government which reigned over Siena. An urbanistic and political propaganda axis runs from Palazzo Pubblico to Fonte Gaia: Lorenzetti's Buon Governo, Taddeo di Bartolo's frescoes and the Virtues of the Fonte are intended to strengthen a sense of civil pride.
Santa Maria della Scala, servizio programmazione culturale musei
Redazione di Chiara Nencini
Fotografie realizzate dagli alunni della 3D-AM, A.S 2017-2018, del Liceo Artistico "Duccio di Buoninsegna" di Siena.