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The Trevi Fountain in Rome, for Nicola Salvi .
Nicola Salvi directed his activity to architecture after having studied mathematics and philosophy. He was a disciple of Antonio Canevari, who, as advisory architect to the king of Portugal, marched in Lisbon in 1728, leaving Salvi to care for his orders in Rome. Among these were ephemeral decorations and small decorative projects. In the city, the sponsorship for large works had decreased a lot compared to the past.
However, in 1732, two major architectural projects emerged at the initiative of Pope Clement XII: the completion of the facade of the Archbasilica of San Juan de Letrán and the creation of a large public fountain in the center of the city. Although Salvi participated in both contests and his plans for the Basilica Laterana were highly praised, finally Alessandro Galilei, an architect with a classicist tendency, took charge of it. However, Salvi got the commission for the Trevi Fountain. The project won over the most prestigious architects such as Ferdinando Fuga and Luigi Vanvitelli. The monument was built with travertine marble, and started by Pietro Bracci, author of the statue of Neptune, who did not finish because he was killed. La Fontana was completed in 1747 after eight years of work.
Conceived as a palatial façade, although in reality it corresponds to a secondary part of the building to which it is attached, the fountain stands out for its monumentality, fusing elements of nature with classical architectural orders. The place where the main entrance should be located is occupied by a large niche with the god Neptune, ruler of the waters, unfolding around a cascade of feigned rocks, figures and fountains. The illusory effect is so well designed and executed that there have been voices that attribute their conception to Bernini himself, whose influence on Salvi’s design seems clear.
Apart from this masterpiece, Nicola Salvi left few samples of his art. In 1738 the Dominicans of Viterbo commissioned the reconstruction of the church of Santa María in Gradi; in 1742 he designed, in collaboration with Luigi Vanvitelli, the chapel of St. John the Baptist in San Antonio de los Portugueses, which after being blessed by Benedict XIV was sent by ship and back to assemble in the church of San Roque in Lisbon.
Due to his poor health, he had to give up substantial projects that were offered to him. In 1745 he was admitted to the Congregazione dei Virtuosi al Pantheon, one of the most prestigious artistic academies in the world.
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