Birth of Venus

Monumental Waterfall (Parc de la Ciutadella)

Sculpture: Venanci Vallmitjana i Barbany, Agapito Vallmitjana i Barbany (model), Eduard B. Alentorn (enforcement)
Design: Josep Fontseré
Materials: White marble

The core group of the waterfall represents the birth of Venus and consists of the right figure goddess with upraised arms and two nymphs lying at his feet, while a large shell, the name attribute of the birth of the goddess, closes behind the whole composition.

This group is about a group of irregular rocks where born the first supplier waterfall. In the next waterfall there are four sea horses with rampant forelegs and medium-bodied fish, and assumes that the main assembly rests on an imaginary carriage. The appearance of horses is strange on the theme of the birth of Venus, as it was carried to the coast by winds over a large shell, which is the most usual image.

It can explain the existence of these four figures and non-existent carriage from the shadow cast by Henri Espérandieu Waterfall in Marseille (conducted between 1862 and 1869), which inspired Fontseré (he had visited the French city) and having a composition very Similary. The central theme of the sculpture is an allegory of the Durance by Jules Cavelier (Paris, 1814-1894), accompanied by the allegories of the vine and wheat, resting on a chariot drawn by four bulls in an identical position to the horses Ciutadella, with legs like rampant took the platform of the waterfall. The appearance of horses at the birth of Venus, then, can be explained as a formal transposition from the Marseillais set in the cascade of Barcelona and therefore loses iconológico meaning, although the action is very effective in the case of Barcelona as the cascade is more vertical.

The program Marseille celebrated the arrival in town of the waters of the river Durance 1847, after many work-more than 300 kilometers of channels- to irrigate a very dry region with prosperity involving (represented by allegories of the vine and wheat). The Durance is a river of the Camargue, known for its bulls, which makes the whole coherent narrative iconològicament.

The composition of the three figures shows the great frontalidad with which Vallmitjana brothers designed the set, intended to be visible from the base of the waterfall, at a great distance, and sought to enhance the figure of Venus: the figure is silhouetted against the sky because it has nothing behind, and perfectly framed by the triumphal arch of architecture, exaggerating the movement of the arms, very dynamic and contrasted with respect to the compact group formed by the two nymphs with the shell.

This set is usually attributed to Venanci Vallmitjana, by comparison with other individual works of the two brothers. Venus, very elegant, conveys the feeling that begins to wake up, head slightly raised and eyes downcast, while vigorous gesture of arms, with some line with the central figure of the dance Carpeaux held in 1869 - give a remarkable tension, underlined by the movement of the long hair moved by the wind.

  • S. Pere, S. Caterina i La Ribera
  • Parc de La Ciutadella


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