On November 18, 1669, the inhabitants of Naples awoke to an unpleasant surprise. According to the manuscript journal of Innocenzo Fuidoro (Vincenzo d’Onofrio), the monumental Renaissance fountain known as I Quattro del Molo (The Four [River Gods] of the Dock), formerly located on the main dock of the city’s harbor, had been dismantled on the order of the Spanish viceroy Pedro Antonio de Aragón, ostensibly to be restored. The four monumental statues depicting the four rivers of the world, for which the fountain was named, were loaded onto a ship and sent to Spain. The monument was probably intended as a gift to King Charles II of Spain, as Neapolitans later learned. Maintaining their typical sense of humor, according to Fuidoro’s journal, they made what had happened to the four River Gods the subject of proverbs, jokes, and pasquinades.
The kingdom of Naples was under Spanish rule, and as viceroy, Pedro Antonio de Aragón exercised full power over the city and the state. Nevertheless, in Naples as in other early modern cities, public fountains were the only source of drinking water, and the disappearance of a public fountain from one of the most popular of its urban spaces was extraordinary.
The case of the forced relocation of I Quattro del Molo from Italy
to Spain may seem highly unusual, but it is not an isolated story. Other fountains have given rise to similar narratives. For instance, according to the Malagueño poet Juan de Ovando y Santarén’s Ocios de Castalia (1663), the Fuente de Génova in Málaga was “won” from pirates by Don John of Austria in the Battle of Lepanto against the Turks (1571). On the other hand, according to Cristóbal Medina Conde’s Conversaciones históricas malagueñas (1789–1792), which was based on Pedro Morejón’s manuscript “Historia general de la antigüedad y
The purpose of my current research is to put together for the first time case studies, contemporary narratives, and traditions of
During the Renaissance the market for marble sculpture throughout the Mediterranean was robust. The taste for Italian fountains spread all over Europe, from Portugal to Poland, and, thanks to its marble quarries and specialized workshops, Italy was the fulcrum of this commerce. Italian fountains and Italian-style gardens became fashionable objects of desire for many European monarchs and aristocrats, who valued them as status symbols. Thus, many works were taken, for instance, from Italy to Spain, in some cases legally acquired or offered as diplomatic gifts, but in other cases transported after being requisitioned or stolen. These multiple dislocations generated a sort of diaspora of Italian garden sculpture, which makes it necessary to examine this kind of artistic production from a continental and comparative perspective.
My aim is to illuminate in new and complex ways the study of early
European modernity through the circulation of Italian sculpture by considering the attraction of