The sculptor Jacopo della Quercia was born very close to the city of Siena, in Quercia Grossa around the year 1374. There he met first-hand some of the best works of gothic art in Italy, such as the city's Cathedral and many of the treasures inside, such as the Pulpit made by Nicola Pisano.
However, by then the Gothic style was already in decline, as was the city of Siena, which had already passed its heyday. So although the influence of the art of the Pisano on this sculptor is undeniable, as well as other gothic artists such as the great Claus Slauter and his works made for the Dukes of Burgundy, the truth is that Jacopo della Quercia is an artist of the Renaissance, of the Quattrocento.
Indeed, he soon left Siena, and began working throughout the Tuscanyregion, including its capital Florence, and even in other places like Bologna, where he made one of his great creations in the Basilica of San Petronio in that city.
However, he returned to his birthplace several times, especially during the last years of his life. And there he made another of his great works: the relief panels with which theGaia Fountainis decorated, located in the famousPlaza del Campo deSienna.
There is this fountain created in 1342 to commemorate the arrival of water to the very center of the city, which is why it is also known as the “Fountain of Joy”. However, at the beginning of the 15th century it was decided to modify that first work, and a new fountain was built with the quadrangular shape that we see today.
And whose decoration was entrusted to Jacopo della Quercia, who completed it in 1419. For this occasion the artist made a series of reliefs in white marble where he presents us with the Madonna accompanied by the personification of the virtues Christian theological figures, but also other figures from classical mythology.
Currently, the reliefs you see are replicas made in the 19th century, since the originals were disassembled and taken for better conservation to the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, located next to the Cathedral. However, when those replicas were made, there were two that were not made. It was about the figures of Rhea Silvia and Acca Larentia.
Who were Rhea Silvia and Acca Larentia? Both are two mythological characters related to Romulus and Remo, specifically the first would be their mother and the second a woman who protected them. And why weren't their replicas made? Because they were naked, and the mayor of the time did not think it was good to do them. However, these two nudes of non-biblical characters were the first to be made for a public space.since ancient times.