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The Fountains

The Fountains

Peterhof
 
 

The Roman Fountains

The Roman Fountains rise like triumphal columns in the wide open space in front of the Dragon Cascade. Each fountain is made up of two octagonal forms - a small one, placed on top of a larger one - each supporting a disc. The bodies of the fountains are formed of granite blocks and faced with panels of coloured marbles. Marble is also used for the discs, the carved fillets, the cornices, volutes, and pilasters; it serves as a fine background for the twenty-eight bronze sculptural ornaments - masks, laurel wreaths, garlands of flowers and fruit, and sea-shells. Five foaming jets crown this structure. The water falls in lacy patterns over the edges of the upper disc into the lower one, and from there into a pool of Baroque shape.

The first twin two-tiered fountains were built in front of the Dragon Cascade to a project by Blank and Davydov in 1738 and 1739. In design they were similar to the fountains in St Peter's Square in Rome: hence their name. The figured pools were faced with polished slabs of Putilovo limestone, a surround was cut from Pudost limestone, and the fountains themselves were made of wood and lined with sheet lead. The pipes and hydrotechnical equipment of the Roman Fountains were installed under the supervision of Sualem; the laying out of the area in sunken parterres, and the planting of trees, was carried out from the design of the master-gardener Fock.

In 1763, Piotr Paton and Semion Volkov, following Rastrelli's plan, moved the pools eight metres from the Cascade, so that the fountains might be seen in the perspective of the Birch Walk. At the same time, new wooden fountains were built on stone foundations, also to Rastrelli's design. The fountains retained the original plan, with the bowls placed in two tiers; their rich carved and gilt ornamentation made them a splendid sight. It was only between 1798 and 1800 that the Roman Fountains were remade in marble. They were built on their old foundations, of granite blocks, and faced with Jyvan, Tivdia, and Ruskeala marbles. The construction was carried out by Fiodor Stengel and Franz Brouer, and the builder Timofey Nasonov; the fountain-builder Strelnikov was in charge of the waterworks. Ornamental details were executed in lead from models by Fiodor Andreyev to replace the carved wooden ones; they were cast by the coppersmith Naum Semionov, and gilded by Heinrich Wilhelm Keller. Although the original structure and dimensions of the old pools were retained, the Roman Fountains took on some features characteristic of Classical architecture. In 1817 lead masks, designed by Martos, were added to these monumental fountains.

During the Nazi occupation of 1941-44 the fountains were destroyed, but by 1949 the marble facing and the hydrotechnical mechanism were restored, and the fountains were put back into working order. Five years later, Gurzhy re-created the masks from a surviving cast and reproduced the rest of the decorative details in bronze from old drawings and photographs.



The Roman Fountain
in the Parterre Garden.
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