QUERCIA, Jacopo della
(b. ca. 1367, Quercia Grossa, d. 1438, Siena)
Marble, height: 162 cm
Palazzo Pubblico, Siena
This well-preserved figure is from the damaged Fonte Gaia, the Sienese fountain commissioned for the sloping, fanshaped Piazza del Campo on the site of a trecento fountain. Two drawings preserve some of its original features which were altered during its execution between 1414-19. In the 19th century, a replacement was installed and the dismembered pieces moved.
The large fountain included allusions to the city's Roman history and Christian virtues, culminating in the central Madonna and Child. While most of the sculpture was in relief, two freestanding figures formed part of the Roman iconography: Acca Larentia, the goatherd's wife who cared for the young Romulus and Remus, and Rhea Sylvia, their mother.
The figure of Acca Larentia derives from a Roman Venus and has Jacopo's characteristic fleshiness and heavy drapery. The group is psychologically integrated, for as she holds one of the chubby boys who pushes at her breast, the other jumps up to attract her attention. She looks at him with almond-shaped eyes and a smile that suggests life. So successful was the fountain that the sculptor earned the nickname "Jacopo della Fonte".