Orion’s Fountain in Messina is the work of one of Michelangelo’s students, Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli (1507-1563). Born in Florence, Montorsoli was a friar of the Servite Order as well as a sculptor and an architect; the Senate of Messina entrusted him with creating a monument to celebrate the completion of the first aqueduct in Messina, in 1547.
In 1553, Montorsoli and his pupil, Martino Montanini, saw their magnificent fountain built in Piazza del Duomo. Its pyramid-shaped center is crowned by a statue of Orion, founder of the city according to legend, with his dog Sirius at his feet. Further down the pyramid, there are Naiads, Tritons, small angels, and finally, at the base, representation of four rivers: the Ebro, the Tiber, the Nile, and the small Camaro, which provides water to the fountain.
The famous art historian Bernard Berenson loved this fountain very much; he considered it the most beautiful of its kind, not only in Italy but anywhere. In his 1953 “Viaggio in Sicilia”, he stated it contained an unrivalled repertoire of Michelangelo-style motifs, with great importance in Italian art history. According to him, it had considerable value both for its overall design and composition and for its pleasant, often minuscule details.