Carlo Orsi, owner and director of London gallery Trinity Fine Art
is supporting the restoration project titled Giambologna E La Fata Morgana which is dedicated to restoring the architecturally and artistically important complex known as Fonte della Fata Morgana (Fountain of Morgan Le Fay). The Fountain was built by Bernardo Vecchietti in the second half of the 16th century inside the grounds of Villa Il Riposo, his summer home in the heart of the Chianti area in the foothills of Fattucchia. It is a unique example of garden architecture which oscillates between nymphaeum and grotto and which was built in order to house Giambolognas statue of Morgan Le Fay which was sculpted early in his career (1573-74) when he was newly arrived in Italy from Flanders and was still relatively unknown.
This fountain complex where the Vecchietti family and guests took refuge from the heat on summer days, chatting pleasantly and remarking on the beauty of the place and the works adorning it, is now in a precarious state of preservation and this restoration campaign aims to stabilize and restore it to its original state, with a life-size, faithful copy of the Giambologna sculpture of Morgana being executed by restorer Filippo Tattini to be housed in the space for which it was designed, thereby restoring the central focus and iconographic fulcrum of the complex. Giambologna sculpted the marble statue of Morgan Le Fay, which was placed inside the Fonte Della Fata Morgana around the year 1572, to be the focal point of a fountain comprised of a conch made of Pietra Serena, supported by a rough, zoomorphic-shaped base reminiscent of a mermaids tail. The water that overflows from the stone basin cascades into the hexagonal pool below, and contemporary accounts admiringly mention the statue describing it as a beautiful nude young woman in marble sculpted by Giambologna as she is leaving a grotto. One hand is placed delicately on her breast, the other holds a seashell from which, as she stands, the water flows like quicksilver.
In 1768, the sculpture was sold to an English antique dealer by the director of the Uffizi Gallery at the time, because it was considered to be of secondary value. Thus, it was transported to England in 1775 and from then on remained in the UK and continued to change hands until it reappeared in 1989 at Christies auction House. At this point it was recognized by expert scholars and art historians as being the lost statue of the famous nymphaeum of Giambologna, after which it returned to Florence for two brief sojourns, once as part of the exhibition, Magnificenza alla corte dei Medici. Arte a Firenze alla fine del Cinquecento (Museo degli Argenti di Palazzo Pitti, 24 September 19976 January 1998), and again for Il Cinquecento a Firenze. Tra Michelangelo, Pontormo e Giambologna (Palazzo Strozzi, 21 September 201721 January 2018).
At present it is in a UK Private Collection.