Neptune and Triton

Neptune and Triton

Neptune and Triton is one of the first sculptures by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Created between 1622 and 1623, it is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Carved in marble, the work measures 182.2 cm in height.

History of Neptune and Triton

The marble sculpture was originally commissioned by Cardinal Alessandro Damascenti Peretti in 1620, and was executed between March 1622 and February 1623, to be used as a fountain to decorate the pond in the garden of his villa Peretti Montalto, located on the Viminal hill in Rome.

The sculpture was placed in the already established oval pool (called Peschiera or Peschierone), designed by Domenico Fontana between 1579 and 1581.

It was purchased by the Englishman Thomas Jenkins in 1786, who sold it later that year to the English painter Joshua Reynolds. The work had been named "Neptune and Glaucus" according to the biography written by Filippo Baldinucci about Bernini, but appears as "Nettvno, e Tritone" in an engraving by Domenico de Rossi (1704). It is later renamed, by correction, "Neptune and Triton" according to Reynolds'.

After Reynolds' death in 1792, it was sold to Charles Anderson-Pelham, first Baron of Yarborough, who kept it in the garden of his house in Chelsea, London, Walpole House. His descendants moved it in 1906 to their country house at Brocklesby Park, Lincolnshire.

It was later purchased from the family by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1950, although it appeared in an exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 1938.

Neptune and Triton's Iconography

Neptune stands astride Triton; the latter is crouching; both figures are scluptured on a large half-shell that serves as a pedestal.

Neptune points his trident towards the sea, while Triton blows into his shell. The shell is designed to spout water, so that the sculpture can be used as a fountain.

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