This a followup to my Gods in Boxes video, showing the Palladian circle without it’s winter gear on, and also the Spit/Spat Triton fountain in its full glory. I recorded this on a rainy day and the signs may be hard to read through the water droplets, so I transcribed them below:

The Italian Renaissance Gardens
Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, New York

In 1900 Richard Canfield, owner of the Canfield Casino, hosted a visit from his friend Charles E. Eliot, president of Harvard University. As Eliot’s hobby was garden landscaping, he suggested that the park be improved by the addition of gardens and sculptures.

On Eliot’s recommendation, Canfield hired Clarence Luce, a well known landscape architect from Boston and New York, to design the gardens in 1902-03. The gardens were built by Frank DeFrank, Canfield’s head gardener, following Luce’s plans and were opened to the public in 1905.

The Triton Pool
Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, New York

In Greek mythology, Triton was the son of Poseidon (Roman name Neptune) the god of the sea. Triton was half dolphin and half man. He created winds and waves at Poseidon’s bidding by coming to the surface of the sea and blowing through a conch shell.

The representations here are probably based upon a painting by Annibale Carracci, an early Baroque artist who resided in Bologna, Italy. It is believed that they illustrate a story told in Virgil’s Aeneid in which Triton was challenged to a contest by Misenus, the Trojan trumpeter for Aeneas. Triton promptly tossed Misenus into the sea for his arrogance.

The statues were crafted from Carrara marble by an unknown Italian artist. The quarry in Italy that produces this marble has been used since Roman times. Carrara was also the source of much of the marble used by Michelangelo to produce many of his famous works, including the David in Florence and the Piera in Rome. Local residents often refer to the Tritons as “Spit and Spat”.

The Palladian Circle
Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, New York

The rear garden is arranged in a Palladian circle, believed to be based upon the gardens of a former Papal palace in Rome, Italy. With the sundial marking the center of the circle, four sculptures known as herms are arranged on its perimeter. Two of the four sculptures are of a satyr, probably Pan, the Greek god of the forest.

In ancient Greece, herms were originally used as boundary markers and featured the Greek god, Hermes, giving rise to the term. Although this type of sculpture was later adapted for uses other than boundary markers, losing the connection with Hermes, the word “herms” was still used to describe this type of artwork.

The other two sculptures depict maenads, female followers of Dionysus (Roman name Bacchus), the god of revelry and wine. Maenads reveled with Dionysus and were constantly being chased by Pan and his satyrs, who could never catch them. This story from Greek mythology seems to form the basis of the garden plan. The sundial in the center is original, the herms are replicas.

Filed under: Nature

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