SALVI, Niccolò
(b. 1697, Roma, d. 1751, Roma)

Fontana di Trevi

Piazza di Trevi, Rome

In the first quarter of the eighteenth century there was a stagnation in the architectural activities in Rome. But in the second quarter, between 1725 and 1745 Rome recovered to such an extent that she seemed to reconquer her leading position. Talented architects produced numerous important structures in this period. The new flowering of architecture in Rome is mainly connected with the names of Filippo Raguzzini, Gabriele Valvassori, Alesandro Galilei, Francesco de Sanctis, Niccolò Salvi, and Ferdinando Fuga. Each of the first five created one great masterpiece, namely the Piazza Sant'Ignazio (Raguzzini, 1727-28), the façade of the Palazzo Doria-Pamphilj (Valvassori, 1730-35), the façade of San Giovanni in Laterano (Alessandro Galilei, 1733-36), the Spanish Steps (de Sanctis, 1723-26), and the Fontana di Trevi (Salvi, 1732-62). Only the sixth, Ferdinando Fuga, the most profuse talent of the group, secured a number of first-rate commissions for himself, best known are the Palazzo della Consulta (1732-37) and the façade of Santa Maria Maggiore (1741-43).

The event in Rome that absorbed the best talents of the second quarter of the eighteenth century and joined, as bridge, the first half of the century to the second, was the realization of that great architectural and sculptural complex, the Trevi Fountain. Designed in 1732 by Niccolò Salvi from Rome, after he won the competition organized by Clement XII, the fountain was formally opened - still incomplete - in 1744 and was finished, after the death of its creator, only in 1762. Clement XII made a decisive mark on the development of the fountain when he decided to use, as a theatrical backdrop, the façade of the palazzo that the Duke of Poli had just had built, overriding the duke's protests. In this way, the fountain could extend over 20 meters of the architectural prospect and all 26 of its height, occupying the entire long side of the small piazza. Thus, what might have been a secondary intervention of urban furnishing was transformed into one of the most important undertakings of the century.

Salvi's solution, with the steps descending towards the basin, perfectly interpreted the pope's expectations. The fountain was not simply accommodated by a piazza, but the space of the piazza became an integral part of the monument.

The Fountain of Trevi may be described as the apotheosis of the Baroque interpretation of the value of the water. Issuing from articulated rocks full of living organism, the flowing water unites the mythological theme (the Triumph of Neptune) with the transformation of the palace into a monumental sculpture.

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