The water fountain, a symbol of inexhaustible vigour, was one of the architectures chosen to celebrate the loving union and, with this connotation, a frequent structure in Portuguese gardens of the 17th and 18th centuries.
In such a manner, one fountain that surrounds the large tank in the gardens of the Marqueses de Fronteira in Lisbon has a shield with a combined coat of arms of the Mascarenhas and Ataídes, to mark the union of D. Fernando with D. Joana Leonor, in 1672. Almost a century later, in the old gardens of Quinta da Noosa Senhora da Piedade, in Vila Franca de Xira, the Counts of Vila Nova de Portimão had a small, armoured fountain built to commemorate the union of D. Isabel de Lencastre with D. Manuel Rafael de Távora.
Marriages were an essential part of the political and social contract to create a peaceful environment. In 1728, to limit the growing conflicts caused by the dispute over the possession of territories in South America, Spanish diplomacy proposed the realization of a double alliance: in addition to the marriage between the Spanish crown prince and Maria Bárbara, the Portuguese prince should marry Princess Mariana Vitória. The first ceremony took place in a wooden palace over the bridge in the Caia River, built for the occasion, with several pavilions on both banks. Among the numerous accounts and engravings that celebrate the double matrimony, the print engraved by François Harrewijn stands out, with the female personification of the two Iberian crowns in an affectionate embrace. In the foreground, the figure of a cupid chaining the god Mars symbolizes the victory of peace and concord.
The Count of Ericeira, D. Francisco Xavier de Menezes, used the same poetic image of the victory of love over Mars in the opening of his speech in celebration of the royal weddings:
As the brilliant torch of Hymenaeus ignited in Olympus, the fulminating ray of Mars extinguished in the world. The ardour is hidden in the light, and a million valiant fighters, who tried to spread an unquenchable fire in the theatre of Europe, laid down their weapons to attend the festivities in the Temple of the glory of Spain.
Slightly older, the widower Sebastião Carvalho de Melo married for the second time in 1745, in Vienna, where he served as ambassador to Portugal. Most of the Portuguese court welcomed the union with D. Leonor Ernestina de Daun in a contract that gave solid social recognition to the Portuguese ambassador and foresaw a success for the diplomatic mission of the future Count of Oeiras and plenipotentiary minister of King D. José I.
At Quinta de Oeiras, on the stairs that flank the fountain’s niche sumptuous decorated, two tile panels depict so many victories of love over war: Mars disarmed by Venus and Andromeda freed by Perseus. Painted by Sebastião de Almeida around 1765, the fables of gods emphasize the importance of the loving union between D. Sebastião Carvalho de Melo and D. Leonor Ernestina de Daun, and the nuptial contract in the conduct of State affairs.
NATIVIDADE, Frei Joseph. Fasto de hymeneo ou historia panegyrica dos desposorios dos fidelíssimos reys de Portugal, nossos senhores. Lisboa: Manuel Soares, 1752.
CORREIA, Ana Paula Rebelo. Histoires en azulejos: Miroir et mémoire de la gravure européenne. Azulejos baroques à thème mythologique dans l’architecture civile de Lisbonne. Iconographie et sources d’inspiration. Doctoral dissertation, Université Catholique de Louvain, outubro 2005.