The Fountain of Neptune, Gdańsk
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

Zdjęcie panoramiczne tej lokalizacji jest niedostępne.

photo

The Fountain of Neptune constitutes an interesting example of the perception of the classical antiquity in the 17th-century art of Gdańsk. It is also the symbol of both the city of Gdańsk itself and its links with the sea.

History

The first mention of a well in the Long Market dates back to 1549. During the early 17th century, the efforts to design and build a more impressive structure have commenced at the initiative of Bartholomaeus Schachmann, the mayor of Gdańsk. In 1605, Abraham van den Block began working on the design at the request of the Municipal Council (although Hans Vredeman de Vries might also have participated in the project); in years 1606-1613, van den Block created the stone basin and the balustrade around the pool. The statue of Neptune itself was cast sometime around 1615 in the Gdańsk workshop of Gerdt Benningk by the Flemish sculptor Peter Husen. The individual components of the structure have only been assembled in 1633, when the fountain was finally completed and activated. In 1634, a wrought iron fence was erected around the fountain, designed by Johann Rogge. During the 18th century, the stone casing has been damaged, making it necessary to perform repair works on the fountain. The task of refurbishing the fountain was entrusted to Johann Stender, who created a new pool and shaft upon which the fountain basin was mounted, leaving the initial design intact. It was also during that period that coat of arms of the city of Gdańsk and crowned eagles were installed on the gates in the wrought-iron fence. The grand opening ceremony was held on August 7, 1761. In 1927 the fountain was restored, while the eagle sculptures were removed from the fence in 1935. Ten years later, in 1945, the fountain was partially disassembled and transported away from the city. In 1954, following the reconstruction of the damaged parts (the shaft of the fountain, the trident and parts of the fence, the fountain was reassembled and activated once again. Further works were carried out in years 1974-1975 (restoration of stone decorations), in 1977 and in years 1985-1986 (restoration of the statue). The most recent renovation of the fountain, including the disassembly of the plinth and statue, the renovation thereof and the installation of a state-of-the-art water conditioning system were performed during the period between September 2011 and April 2012.

Description

The fountain is positioned in the most prestigious part of the city, in the north-western part of the Long Market, on the axis of the Court of Artus. The fountain combines elements of Mannerism and the Rococo style, its form being reminiscent of the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna designed by Giovanni da Bologna, a Flemish artist who mostly worked in Italy; the statue of Neptune itself was evidently inspired by the sculptures of the Greek and Roman antiquity. The basin was designed on an irregular polygonal plan, its dimensions being roughly 5 x 5 metres; a circular basin in the centre is perched atop a tall, sculpted shaft. The sculpture of Neptune, 2.20 metres in height, is positioned in the centre of the basin. The balustrade around the pool is made of green-grey sandstone; the basin atop the plinth is made of black marble, while the sculpture was cast in bronze. The outer side of the balustrade around the pool is adorned with cartouches in bas-relief incorporating the coat of arms of the city of Gdańsk accompanied by Rococo ornamentation. Four groups of sculptures are perched atop the parapet of the balustrade, depicting fantastical sea creatures surrounded by Roccoco motifs. The shaft (plinth) of the fountain is adorned with stylised foliage and comb-like motifs, supplemented by sculptures of a dolphin, swan and putti at the base of the plinth. The statue of Neptune - presented in a strong contrapposto and in a spiral pose (figura serpentinata) holds a trident in his right hand and a conch in his left hand. Fantastical representations of seahorses and dolphins writhe at the feet of the statue. The fountain is surrounded by an octagonal wrought iron balustrade with four decorative gates, the top sections of two of the gates adorned with the coat of arms of the city of Gdańsk, the remaining two being adorned by crowned eagles. The streams of water spouting from the base of the statue fall into the basin and then flow downwards through pipes concealed within four gargoyles into the pool below. Water also spurts from the trident in Neptune’s hands.

Accessible structure.

Compiled by Krystyna Babnis, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 11.07.2014.

Bibliography

  • Duchnowski T., Fontanna Neptuna, [w:] Śliwiński B. (red. nauk.), Encyklopedia Gdańska, Gdańsk 2012, s. 288-289.
  • Friedrich J., Gdańskie zabytki architektury do końca XVIII w., Gdańsk 1997, s. 192-194.

Krzyżanowski L., Fontanna Neptuna, [w:] Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce. Miasto Gdańsk, cz. 1: Główne Miasto, Warszawa 2006, s. 60-61.

General information

  • Type: small architecture forms
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XVII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Długi Targ , Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

Licence:

report issue with this site

Geoportal Map

Google Map

See also in this area