The Nereids by Antoni Solà

  • Description

  • Work's History

Antoni Solà represented the two Nereids as mermaids. They sit naked beneath the imposing figure of Neptune at the foot of the fountain, each one holding a shell in her hand.

«[...] they went out to find Nereu's young maidens, some from here and others from there: the goddess Thetis took the rudder from behind to protect them between the errant reefs.» Apol¿loni de Rodes, Les argonàutiques

Within the project to make the Llotja a sumptuous building that would meet up to the ambitions of Barcelona’s merchant class, the Board of Trade decided to construct a fountain to embellish the Neoclassical courtyard. In recognition of the city’s seafaring vocation, it was ornamented with a figure of Neptune, created by Nicolau Traver, and other smaller figures of The Nereids, by Antoni Solà.

Neptune, the Roman heir to the Greek god Poseidon, is one of the twelve divinities of Olympus, the god of the seas and water, the son of Saturn and Rhea and the elder brother of Jupiter. He is often portrayed as an ill-tempered old man who has the power to both unleash and calm violent storms. Seamen used to invoke his protection to ensure smooth sailing free of danger. He is usually shown with a long beard and an abundant mane of hair, grasping a trident like the one used by fishermen to catch tuna. Its three prongs symbolise the main types of bodies of water: rivers, oceans and lakes. Neptune is usually accompanied by a retinue of marine divinities: the Tritons and the Nereids.

The Nereids tend to be represented either as mermaids or else riding on sea creatures such as dolphins. They are daughters of Nereus – a sea god older than Poseidon – and Doris, the daughter of Oceanus. The Nereids were generally considered to be benign divinities who protected sailors, and they were worshipped in many coastal towns of classical Greece. They lived in the depths of the sea, in the palace of their father, sitting on thrones of gold. In the iconographic representations that have been made of them, they tend to be seen playing among the waves of the sea or accompanying Neptune.


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