spouts and surges

Dripping gods and goddesses and fountains as royal status symbols…

The principles of Andre Le Notre and Francois and Pierre de Francine were carried to England in 1712 in a curious and amusing book, The Theory and Practice of Gardening, John James’s translation of Dezallier d’Argenville’s classic French treatise on the design of grounds and waterworks in the manner of Versailles.

—James was one of the most experienced and dependable surveyors of his time; he has been associated with garden design because of this translation. One of the most interesting techniques presented in the book is the ha-ha, a hidden trench that acts as a barrier for grazing livestock without blocking the view of a landscape. Originally a French military invention, the ha-ha was frequently used in English eighteenth-century gardens. James’s translation uses the original French term ah-ah: for it “surprises the Eye upon coming near it, and makes one cry, Ah! Ah! from whence it takes its Name.”—Read More:http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/160000129

England already had the “exquistive waterworks” of the first phase of Chatsworth, including the Great Cascade, the Neptune Fountains, and the copper weeping willow, which were in construction as early as 1687. Together with the bird-song grotto at Wilton, where unwary bird lovers were suitably saturated, these had left Englishmen avid for more. James recommended “Basons and large Pieces of Water” with appropriate water forms: “Cascades, Gullets, Buffets, Sheets, Masks,Bubbles,Muhrooms, Sheafs, Spouts, Surges, Candlesticks, Grills, Tapers, Crosses,and vaulted Arches.” ….and Figures that naturally belong to the Water, as Rivers, Naiades or Water Nymphs, Tritons, Serpents, Sea-Horses, Dragons, Dolphins, Griffins, and Frogs, which are made to throw out and vomit Streams and Torrents of Water.”

—A fabulous marble cascade flows from the palace towards the sea, along the Samson canal. It symbolises Russia’s conquest of the Baltic coast in the Great Northern War. The cascade is lined with gilded statues and leads to a basin with a gilded statue of Samson. On the south front of the palace there is a large parterre, allees, grass plots, basins, fountains and statues. This garden, like St Peterburg itself, is an amazing symbol of Peter’s desire to make Russia a sophisticated European power. It contains 173 fountains. They line the canal and ornament the woods. Apart from the unintended symbolism of a poor country pouring water and gold into a northern ocean, and Samson’s treatment of the lion, one can read little of Peter’s barbaric personality, drunkeness or fondness for torture. Instead, one sees the enlightened side of his character. Petrodvorets was destroyed in the second World War but then rebuilt as a symbol of soviet imperialism. —Read More:http://www.gardenvisit.com/garden/peterhof-petrodvorets

In the eighteenth century, James’s “Congelations, Petrifyings, Spouts, and Surges” appeared all over Europe. The construction of that superb, perennially popular, aquatic attraction of Rome, the Fountain of Trevi, the work of Nicola Salvi from 1732-62, was financed by popular lotteries and accompanied by outraged public cries as expenses mounted. Peterhof, the show palace of the Russian Czars, was begun around 1716 by jean-Baptiste Le Blond, Le Notre’s illustrious pupil; and Caserts, the formidable creation of Charles III of Naples, was built in the years after 1752 by Luigi and Carlo Vanvitelli and an impressive assortment of sculptors, engineers, and artisans.

Caserta, grandiose eighteenth-century palace of the kings of Naples. Diana has just discovered Actaeon spying on her and her maidens while they bathe. For this faux pas, she changed him into a stag, and he was torn to pieces by his own hounds- a fate depicted with similar vivacity to the left of the cascade… Image:http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com/slideshow-photo/caserta-palace-sculpture-of-diana-naples-italy.html?sid=15412832&fid=upload_12981674774-tpfil02aw-8806

Called respectively, the Russian and Italian Versailles, they shared the characteristic of all later versions of a monumental stylistic achievement: their conception was bigger, but not better. By one of the delightful ironies of history, the hydraulic hi-jinks of the Romanovs, containing by official count, approximately 2,500 pipes, was eventually communist maintained in the U.S.S.R ; the loyal prole whose sole duty was to turn the cock for unsuspected drenchings by the “water surprises.”

Fountain of trevi. Rome. Wiki:The Trevi fountain is featured in Respighi’s symphonic pictures Fontane di Roma, and was the setting for an iconic scene in Federico Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita starring Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni. The fountain was turned off and draped in black in honor of Mastroianni after the actor’s death in 1996. The fountain is used for some scenes in the 1953 film Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. Part of the fountain is replicated at the Italy Pavilion at Epcot in Walt Disney World, United States.—http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trevi_Fountain#In_popular_culture

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