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The Fountain of the Frogs: A 20th-century fountain for a new quarter of the city

Fountains

The Fountain of the Frogs: A 20th-century fountain for a new quarter of the city

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The Fountain of the Frogs is an extraordinary episode in the story of Rome’s fountains.

It stands at the centre of Piazza Mincio in a northeastern city neighbourhood known and the “Quartiere Trieste”. This is a rather new city quarter, since it was developed in the years just after 1900 ad a high-quality residential discrict, with many grand villas and smaller houses characterised by an architecture which is a mix of different periods.
The buildings in this area make references to Renaissance archtecture, but also to Medieval and Baroque architecture and finally, to Art Nouveau – this was a neighbourhood where experiments in architecture were carried out.

In this context we find the new Fountain of the Frogs, designed to be in the centre of a piazza meant to be the epitome of this urban context, built between 1921 and 1927 on a design of architect Gino Coppodè. Around the piazza are the buildings of Coppedè’s unified archictural plan, so that this part of the Trieste Quarter has taken on the name “quartiere Coppodè”.

The fountain designed for this piazza is very sophisticated, consisting of a basin around its edge where four figures are placed. Each bears on its back a conch shell filled with the water that falls from the open mounth of a frog.
The upper basin is also decorated with various sculptures of frogs.

The fountain fills a primary role in defining the urban space of Piazza Mincio, just like the other fountains in Rome, and in fact looking closely will reveal references to similar fountains: the structure is similar to the Turtle Fountain (see the relative article) and on the edge we find a bee and the same shell, a thinly-veiled reference to the famous fountains of Bernini.

 

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