When Pope Sixtus V completed the restoration of the Acqua Felice aqueduct toward the end of the 16th century, Domenico Fontana was commissioned to design this commemorative fountain. As the story goes, a sculptor named Prospero da Brescia had the unhappy task of executing the central figure, which was to represent Moses (Sixtus liked to think of himself as, like Moses, having provided water for his thirsting population). The comparison with Michelangelo's magnificent Moses in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli was inevitable, and the largely disparaging criticism of Prospero's work is said to have driven him to his grave. A full cleaning, however, has left the fountain, whose Moses in recent years had looked as if he were dipped in soot, sparkling white—and uncovered a great deal of its charm.
Piazza San Bernardo, Rome, Latium, 00187, Italy