Monday, July 28, 2008

Fountain of Shame, Palermo, Sicily

 
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Initially intended for a private villa, this collection of statues caused scandal when it was first acquired from the 15th century equivalent of Amazon.com. Apparently it could not be returned.

In the heart of Palermo's loveliest square, Piazza Pretoria, stands this magnificent fountain, the work of the Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani in 1554 and 1555. It overlooks the facades of the two churches on the square, S. Caterina and S. Giuseppe dei Teatini.... The fountain is floodlit at night, a 24-hour sight.

Shocking, Outrageous, Disgraceful! -- When the Fontana Pretoria was first unveiled in 1575 at Piazza Pretoria, the outcry was so loud it could practically be heard across the city. Originally intended for a private Florentine villa and not a public square, the fountain is adorned with nude figures galore. In time, Palermitans learned to live with this "outrage," although they forever afterward referred to it as Fontana della Vergogna, or "Fountain of Shame."


I walked all around this magnificent fountain, snapping pictures from every angle of the magnificent statues, all depicting magnificent bodies. Not an ounce of cellulite on any of them.

I couldn't help but wonder: are these representations of typical 16th century Florentines? Were they all beautifully shaped and proportioned? No lard butts, jiggly thighs, big stomachs, fallen arches, bad posture, droopy bosoms, scrawny limbs? If so, what has happened to the human race since those days?

Then I figured out that the average Florentine probably lived to be about 25, maybe 30 if he were lucky. Most Americans under 30 would look pretty good without their clothes nowadays, too.

1 comment:

David said...

Well, back in those days, most artists probably wanted to create something beautiful rather than something "transgressive." So, as their models they probably picked the best-looking people around and then idealized on those as bit.