The Fuente del Ángel Caído (“Fountain of the Fallen Angel”) has an ambivalent place in this city of churches. Because it depicts the fall of Lucifer in Milton’s Paradise Lost, the Ángel may be the only public monument in Spain to the Devil himself.
Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.
The sculpture was created by Ricardo Bellver, a Madrid native who studied in Rome. In A.D. 1877, while still a student, he submitted a plaster version of the work to the Exposiciones Nacionales de Bellas Artes and won first prize. One dissenting jury member called it “devoid of all good taste.” A year later it was cast into bronze, and in A.D. 1885, it was installed in the Buen Retiro.
But it was not the only statue of the fallen angel in existence. Costantino Corti created an enormous statue of Lucifer that was commissioned by the Count d’Aquila and exhibited in Paris in A.D. 1867. That’s a good 10 years before Bellver’s work.
Like Bellver’s figure, this is a young and strapping angel, with enough beauty to still be tempting. One American tourist who saw Corti’s work called it “a veritable Son of the Morning: majestic in form, strong of limb, determined of will, supernatural in figure, but sinister of aspect.” Which just about sums it up.