The fountain is placed in the center of a small square near a junction of four tree-lined paths and was built between 1790 and 1791 to replace the previous fountain of the Mascherone or della Vela, which had been previously destroyed during the transformation of the park. It was commissioned by Prince Marcantonio IV Borghese, the most munificent patron of 18th-century Rome, who transformed the villa built by Cardinal Scipione Caffarelli Borghese into a fashionable garden.
Several artists participated in the work. The design is due to Cristoforo Unterperger, a painter of Tyrolean origin highly appreciated by Pope Pius VI Braschi who worked for both the Vatican and the Roman aristocracy. Vincenzo Pacetti, Marcantonio’s trusted restorer and sculptor, took care of its realization. It is said that the inspiration for the theme of sea horses came from an ancient cameo that the sculptor would have received as a gift from the prince. Luigi Salimei and Antonio Isopi also worked on the sculptures of the horses, while the tub was built by Giovanni Antonio Bertè.
Inside a large round basin, four sea horses emerge from the water, with their hooves raised and bodies in the form of fish.The horses support a second, smaller basin with their heads and tails, surmounted by a double chalice finely decorated with acanthus leaves. Other jets of water gush between the horses’ legs and their tails.
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