The Triton Fountain

Explore Map

Explore Map



O’ the Barberini by the Capuchins;
Where the Old Triton, at his fountain-sport,
Bernini’s creature plated to the paps,
Puffs up steel sleet which breaks to diamond dust,
A spray of sparkles snorted from his conch,
High over the caritellas, out o’ the way
O’ the motley merchandizing multitude

—Robert Browning, The Ring and the Book, I, 28–29

Bernini’s Triton Fountain was designed to announce the presence of the nearby Barberini Palace and lay claim to the piazza, which in the seventeenth century was the enclave of the family. This view is striking for its unusual angle of vision, looking down on the piazza from an upper-story window. The composition cuts off the Triton’s tall water jet and provides only a tantalizing glimpse of the buildings defining the piazza. The American journalist Margaret Fuller would have enjoyed something very close to this perspective when she lived across the piazza from the Barberini Palace in 1848–49.

Gustave Le Gray and Firmin-Eugène Le Dien, Bernini’s Triton Fountain, ca. 1852–53. Collection W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg. Photography by Graham S. Haber

Location photography by John Pinto