These two are the most popular and famous fountains in the capital of Spain, and represent the area in which it expanded Madrid towards the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. In fact, these two sculptural and monumental fountains were built between 1780 and 1786. A time that coincided with the development of neoclassical art, and in which the architect Ventura Rodíguez, who actively participated in the creation, design and placement of the two works.
Both complement each other, since they represent the god of the sea and the goddess of the earth, and both are found in the current Paseo del Prado, an area that was conceived as the Salón del Prado and whose most emblematic building is the former Cabinet of Natural History of Juan de Villanueva, which today is one of the most important art galleries in the world: the Prado Museum.
It must be said that currently the two sources are located in a different way than the original. And it is that in the 20th century the architectFernando García Mercadalwas commissioned to raise them on a podium, so that his perspective was changed, giving them a greater height.
The Neptune Fountain is the work of the sculptor Juan Pascual de Mena. In it we see the sea god riding a chariot pulled by tritons. A very common topicin the Hispanic Neoclassicism, although the aesthetic treatment in this case and its dynamism still have much of the previous baroque art. Especially for its theatricality or the most undulating costumes that can immediately be related to the great sculptural works of Bernini (who by the way also made his own interpretation of this mythological character in Neptune and the Newt.
And regarding the Cibeles Fountain, in this case we are dealing with a work by the sculptor Francisco Gutiérrez in collaboration withRoberto Michel who made the lions that pull the chariot of the goddess. This duo of artists, Gutiérrez and Michel later collaborated on other official creations of the time, such as the decoration of the Puerta de Alcalá, designed by the Italian architect Sabatini.
In the representation of the goddess, we see a very leisurely pose, very classic. And the headdress with battlements that she wears on her head is striking. Something that symbolizes her protective character, since at this time Cibeles was also understood as a protective divinity of the cities.