Maraini’s FisherPutti Fish Again

May 27, 2015 / Art & Archaeology
Rome, Lazio

Dear friends, Roberto (of the Caligula statue restoration note) has done it again! So happy to have him contributing… Grazie Roberto per l’articolo e per il lavoro che svolgi!

For years the fountain at the Via Bissolati and Via Sallustiana corner of the US Embassy in Rome barely got any attention. Indeed, it is likely that the last time the Maraini designed and sculpted fountain received any attention was in the few years immediately after its unveiling in 1927. Then, with every passing year, weather, seasons, smog, and limescale build-up from Rome’s hard water slowly made the fountain fade into a mere shadow of its former self, its features barely distinguishable underneath the moss and lichen that completely covered it.

(Photos before…)


Happily, curator Valeria Brunori from the US Embassy’s Cultural Heritage Office did however give it the attention it was due. I was contacted by her office to perform a full restoration based on the in-depth study by specialized technicians from the US Embassy of its condition and after the results came in from cutting-edge scientific laboratory analysis.

The fountain is made of Scabas Rose Siena travertine, and consists of a group of sculptures, depicting two putti (cherubs) supporting a large shell and holding a fishing net in their hands. The net too is of travertine, and it widens outwards at the sides, figuratively capturing two big fish to the sides of each cherub. Other smaller fish and shells are caught in the “net” at the base of the sculpture. The entire composition is symmetrical about the y axis, and it rests on an imitation rock outcropping (actually sculpted travertine), on whose right side the sculptor’s signature is engraved. There are six water spigots: two from the ends of the shell, two from the mouths of the large fish, and two from the mouths of two smaller fish.

The water falls into the lower part of the fountain, a semicircular basin that rests on a base. On both sides, two great pillars of white travertine frame the fountain and extend above the height of the entire composition; they rest on bases of the same material, (carved to imitate natural rock) and are crowned with two circular spheres. Behind the group runs a wrought iron “fishing net”, affixed to the inner sides of each pillar by a crab-shaped metal sculpture. Around the basin, there are four squat stone pillars of light travertine, connected by an iron railing.

Without getting into uninteresting technical details, I will simply say that it required quite a bit of work. This work was incredibly rewarding however, as the fountain was slowly freed of almost a century’s worth of atmospheric agents and pollutants, and slowly came back into itself as it was meant to be. I came to know each detail of the sculptural group, and as I went on spending time with them, I dare say that knowledge turned into affection for them.

(Photos during…)


I consider myself fortunate to have worked on this lovely piece, and would like to thank the US Embassy for the opportunity, and thank all the collaborators and technicians who worked on it together.

(Photos after…)



Roberto Civetta

by Roberto Civetta

Roberto Civetta restores artwork and antiques for a living, and is incredibly grateful for the chance to work on some of the greatest fresco, oil, stone, and architectural masterpieces that Italy has to offer. More info available at

29 Responses to “Maraini’s FisherPutti Fish Again”

  1. Taube Ponce

    What a transformation! Thanks so much for sharing this with us. It was rewarding even for just a reader like myself to see the beauty emerge from the grime!

  2. Richard Smith

    It has always amazed me that the general attitude towards wonderful artworks in Italy could be characterized as benign neglect in my opinion. Having married a wonderful Italian girl 48 years ago I have been to Italy almost every year since and have been amazed by not only the quality of art and sculpture in general but the ubiquitous nature of it. I only wish that we had such art in our smaller towns and cities as one finds in Italy. Probably the greatest threat to these wonderful antiquities is the great number of them that they tend to be taken for granted. So happy that this wonderful piece was restored to this level and beauty. Thank you so much for showing and reporting on this work.

  3. Gian Banchero

    Grazie Roberto for re-gifting the world with this beautiful sculpture. How very fortunate you were/are for having helped return it to all of us! Again, thank you!

  4. Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

    Even the facial expressions of the putti changed from dismay to delight! Wonderful!

  5. Mary Cameron

    How very lovely! And what a gift to the community as well as to those of you who have brought this sculpture back to life! Thank you for taking us on a piece of the journey! Molto grazie!

  6. Bonnie Moore

    Thank you for this article and for the amazing work you do. Italy’s public
    sculpture, particularly it’s fountains, are a pure joy to behold. I so look forward to seeing this in person.

  7. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    thank you for showing and all involved for doing so that we can find pleasure…thank you

  8. Anna giusto

    Amazing work Roberto! Gratifying results on a beautiful piece. Thank you for the photos that showed before and after, it is a fine job!

  9. A Sacco

    Thank you Roberto. One of my most favorite “must-dos” in Rome is to take prople to see the US embassy. I feel comforted by its presence and proud of its prestige. The statue is spectacular and will certainly evoke great pride in the Italian-American heritage.

  10. Jean Krapf

    Bravo! We always stay on the Via Veneto and will certainly look for this lovely restored fountain during our next stay in la bella Roma!

  11. Linda D.

    Thank you so much for the lovely restoration! Once again we can all enjoy the beauty of this work of art.

  12. marianna raccuglia

    Oh my goodness – Congratulations! How wonderful that you were able to bring this project to fruition. Thank you

  13. Alex Cicchinelli

    Wow-put him to work on the Piazza della Repubblica. Every restoration there makes it worse. Alex in Rome

  14. agnese

    What a wonderful restoration of a beautiful piece of artwork.

  15. Suzanna Anderson

    How wonderful to see such a gorgeous restoration! Italy’s beautiful fountains and other civic works of art should be preserved for the joy of all. Cudos to Roberto and his crew!

  16. Rosanne Barrett

    Gorgeous work, Roberto! What a delight to see the photos of the sculpture. I can’t wait to see it in personal Grazie!

  17. Karla Scappini

    LOVELY!! That’s how I remember it!! Thanks for job well done!!

  18. Thank you all for your kind words, I have been in Turkey for archaeological work and have just come home. It is so nice to return to all your lovely messages. I read each of your comments, and they all warmed my heart.
    I will soon write some more about art, archaeology, and modern art that I hope you will enjoy as well.
    Thank you, your responses have made me very happy.


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