10. Fountain of the Dwarf Morgante astride a turtle
Boboli Garden, inv. Boboli, no.1
The Fountain of the Dwarf Morgante astride a turtle is located in the area of the Boboli Garden to the northeast of the Pitti Palace, backing onto the wall situated beneath the Vasari Corridor. The Fountain overlooks the path leading to Buontalenti’s Large Grotto. The original sculpture, in white Carrara marble, was carved by the sculptor Valerio HYPERLINK “https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valerio_Cioli”Cioli from Settignano in 1560. There have been various different interpretations of Morgante’s identity. The Dwarf Morgante group was transformed into a fountain in 1579, when the sculpture was moved to its present position. A jet of water emerges from the turtle’s mouth and flows into a marble basin below it. The statue currently adorning the fountain is a copy of the original; research in the archives reveals that it was made in 1986. It is a cast made with silicon rubber and cast resin charged with marble powder. The original marble sculpture has been housed inside the Kaffeehaus since 2013.
The Fountain of the Dwarf Morgante is no longer in working order. The copy of the statue is in very poor condition, with serious colour deterioration caused by the technical aspects and by the textural quality of the material, out of which it was made, and by the deterioration caused by exposure to the weather.
The white marble basin (which research in the archives suggests is a copy from the original) is in good condition. The bath beneath the basin is lined on the inside with a layer of material with what is presumably an acrylic finish. Both the basin and the bath are infested with autotrophic bioteriogens (organisms), in addition to local incrustations of calcareous matter (limescale).
The sponging on the wall behind the sculpture and on the side walls of the base appears, on visual inspection, to be in reasonable condition.
The metal balustrade shows some evidence of rust. The plaster on the wall behind the fountain displays saline efflorescence presumably caused by rising damp.
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C. Caneva, Il Giardino di Boboli, coll. Biblioteca dello Studiolo, no.4, Florence, ed. Becocci, 1982
G. Capecchi, Palazzo Pitti La Reggia Rilevata, Giunti Editore, 2006.
G. Cambiagi, Descrizione dell’Imperiale Giardino di Boboli fatta da Gaetano Cambiagi custode delle pubbliche biblioteche Magliabechiana e Marucelliana alla nobilissima dama la signora marchesa Maria Teresa Ginori in Marucelli, Florence 1757
F. GURRIERI – J.CHATFIELD, Boboli Gardens, Florence, 1972
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Ed, L. M. MEDRI, Giardino di Boboli, Milan, Silvana Ed, 2003
L. M. MEDRI, Le sculture del Giardino di Boboli fra il Cinquecento e il Seicento, in Palazzo Pitti. L’arte e la storia, Florence, Nardini editore, 2000
F.M. SOLDINI, Il Reale Giardino di Boboli, G. Vascellini, Florence, 1789.
Description of the operations planned
The present project aims both to restore the fountain and to return it to working order. The fountain is set against the wall of the Vasari Corridor and is situated very close to the historical entrance to the Boboli Garden nowadays known as the Portineria di Bacco. The reopening of this space as a public entrance to the Boboli Gardens is planned for the near future, and the Fountain will therefore be a welcoming artwork introducing visitors to the marvels of the park.
Restoration of the fountain’s working parts
The restoration of the fountain’s working parts implies installing a water recirculation plant, adapting a small room to house the necessary equipment. The plant will be comprised of a water expansion tank; a forced circulation system with a suitably powerful pump and prefilter (which will also be used for manually operated backwashing); a disinfectant and flocculant dosing system for keeping the water clear; and an automatic water top-up system fitted, if appropriate, with a softener to reduce the incoming water’s calcar. It is also planned to review the connection to the main water system and to manufacture an outward and inward pipe to be fitted between the small room housing the technical equipment and the fountain.
Replacement of the sculpture with a new marble copy
It is planned to replace the existing copy. The new copy will be in white marble, the same material as the original statue.
Restoration of the marble basin.
Surface cleaning with removal of plant growth; revision and, if necessary, puttying of cracks and/or gaps or lacunae; final protection with a solvent-based water-repellent to protect the basin from water corrosion.
Restoration of the base and side walling of the bath.
Thorough cleaning of the bath. Removal of the present layer of waterproofing with its acrylic finish. Verification of the condition of the bottom of the bath to prevent water leakage. Puttying of any gaps and/or lacunae. Verification of the condition of the plaster. Treatment to remove any moss, lichen or stonecrop. Removal of any deteriorated plaster. Cleaning of the plaster still in good condition by brushing. Application of a fresh layer of plaster over any missing parts. Application of a fresh layer of waterproofing using material compatible with the technical and textural specifications of the bath. The whole, if necessary, followed by the application of a velatura/patina to the entire surface of the bath in order to restore its unity of colour.
Restoration of the stone moulding surrounding the bath.
Verification of the condition of the stone moulding surrounding the bath; cleaning by brushing, followed by cleaning with benzalkonoium-based compresses. Final application of a protective layer of ethyl silicate.
Monitoring the sponging
Monitoring the sponging both on the wall behind the sculpture and on the side walls of the sculpture’s base.
Restoration of the plaster on the wall behind the Fountain.
Elimination of saline efflorenscence.
Restoration of the fountain’s metal parts.
Cleaning, rustproofing and protection with ferrous oxide paint.