Rome Buzz – Bernini v Borromini

In the Piazza Navona in Rome is the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. Why she was in Agone I don’t know. The main architect was Francesco Borromini who had a fabulous rivalry with sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The story goes that Bernini sculpted the four figures in the nearby Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) to comment upon the Borromini church it faces. The river Nile has eyes closed whilst the Río de la Plata holds his hand up as if to protect himself from the falling building. Buzz thought he’d better do the same, just in case.

Rome Buzz - Fountain of the Four Rivers - photograph copyright David Bailey (not the)

Pope Innocent X had the fountain built at public expense during the famine of 1646-48. Hand-written notes on the stone blocks used to make the obelisk read, “We do not want Obelisks and Fountains, It is bread that we want. Bread, Bread, Bread!” The authors were arrested and disguised spies patrolled the area.

From the forthcoming photobook: Rome Buzz.

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