Models for the Fountain of the Four Rivers: scaled-down wonders
It is said that Gian Lorenzo Bernini was incredibly fast at producing models for his sculptures. He worked with clay, molding it at feverish speed, creating copy after copy to test different features, deciding which ones to keep and which ones to discard.
German painter Joachim Von Sandrart wrote about his amazement when the Neapolitan sculptor showed him no less than twenty-two models of Saint Longinus in his studio. They were all as beautiful as the final sculpture now standing inside Saint Peter’s
Basilica: the artist’s talent was obvious even in those scaled-down “sketches”.
The wooden and terracotta models Bernini prepared for the Fountain of the Four Rivers destined to Piazza Navona are now part of museum and private collection in Venice, Bologna, and Rome.
At the time, they were enough to finally convince Pope Innocent X about Bernini’s abilities – winning the artist the opportunity to create the monumental fountain at the center of one of the most beautiful squares in the world.