Stop 57. Well-Head


15th century
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1912.


This well-head is thought to be the work of a fifteenth-century Venetian sculptor. It bears the coat of arms of the Morosini family, a celebrated Venetian clan that gave rise to various doges and diplomats. The family’s most notorious descendant, however, was Francesco Morosini, who in 1687 destroyed the Parthenon and plundered Athens for antiquities.

Pierpont Morgan acquired the marble on June 13, 1912, from the Venetian bookdealer Ferdinando Ongania, who shipped it to New York. Librarian Belle Greene noted on the invoice that it was intended for the Library, indicating that Morgan must have purchased it to embellish the grounds.

Early designs for the building show fountains where this and another well-head are now placed, but a photograph taken before 1924 shows at least one of the well-heads already installed in the spot. Landscape architect Todd Longstaffe-Gowan respected the historic placement of these objects when designing the pebble-work, paths, and beds that flank the walkway to Morgan’s Library.