In the garden of Villa Medici stands a bronze statue of the god Mercury, a copy of a 16th century work by the great Flemish sculptor Jean Boulogne, better known as Giambologna (1529-1608), which is on display in the Bargello Museum in Florence.
Mercury, the centrepiece of a small fountain, balances on a bronze column of air issuing from the mouth of Zephyr, over which flowed water, increasing the illusion that he was floating.
Mercury, the messenger of the Gods, holds in his left hand a caduceus, a winged staff entwined by two snakes. According to one myth, Mercury saw two snakes joined in mortal combat. Separating them with his staff, he brought about peace, and as a result the caduceus came to be seen as a sign of peace.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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