QUERCIA, Jacopo della
(b. ca. 1367, Quercia Grossa, d. 1438, Siena)

Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise

Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala, Siena

In 1408 Jacopo della Quercia was commissioned to design and carve the reliefs for a large public fountain in front of the Palazzo Pubblico. Quercia seems not to have begun actual work on the project (now known as the Fonte Gaia (Happy Fountain) until 1414. The project dragged on until 1419.

Even in its now-ruined state the Fonte Gaia conveys some of the splendour which it originally added to the centre of Siena and underscore the civic imagery important for such a site. A central relief of the Virgin and Child recalls the city's dedication to Mary. She is flanked to the left and right by niches containing figures of virtues. Although the original plan called for figures of Gabriel and the Virgin Annunciate facing one another at the ends of the wings, a revision ordered in 1415 substituted reliefs of the Creation of Adam and the Expulsion from Paradise. The rounded, soft forms of Quercia's bodies refer to Etruscan terracotta sculpture most likely already available from looted local tomb sites.

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