Tag Archives: Paris

Small Model, Wallace Fountains

Location: Paris, France

Richard Wallace drinking fountains are famed throughout Paris and other parts of Europe, mostly due to the elegant Caratyd fountains already blogged here https://memorialdrinkingfountains.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/the-wallace-fountains-france/

However, the Caratyd model is not the only form of drinking fountain provided during the 19th century by the philanthropic Englishman. The design known as the Small Model often found in parks and public gardens is just over 4 feet high. A simple push-button mechanism dispenses the water.

The fountain is a single pedestal with a square base decorated with bulrushes. Alternating panels display bulrushes and the coat of arms of the city of Paris. The capital supports a decorative finial.

There are many examples of the Small Model drinking fountain throughout the city including those identified below.

In the 5th arrondissement known as the Latin Quarter is St. Julien le Pauvre public park. It is located on the Left Bank of the Seine River, with a wonderful best view of Notre Dame Cathedral. The drinking fountain is situated just inside the entrance gate on the rue du Fouarre.

Also in the 5th arrondissement in the Square des Arènes de Lutèce which was originally an amphitheater seating 15,000 people. It was restored and opened as a public square in 1896.

Square Paul Painlevé is a small garden in the heart of the Latin Quarter, between the Cluny Museum of the Middle Ages and the Sorbonne.

Next to the Eiffel Tower in the 7th arrondissement this drinking fountain is located in Champ de Mars park.

Notre Dame Cathedral is in the 4th arrondissement. A park beside the cathedral offers views of the Seine, and within this area of benches and gardens is another drinking fountain example.

The last specimen of the Small Model is located in the 15th arrondissement on Pasteur boulevard (named to honor Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), French chemist and biologist.)


Naiad Fountain

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In the 19th century Sir Richard Wallace was a wealthy English art collector and philanthropist who lived in France. He designed four models of drinking fountains to provide clean drinking water to the citizens of Paris and France. They had to be tall enough to be seen from afar but not overwhelm the landscape; visually attractive; resistant to the elements; and economical.

The Applied model found in the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden (Jardim Botânico located in the Zona Sul of Rio de Janeiro, at the foot of the Corcovado Mountain) was created to be installed on the walls of public buildings such as hospitals and railway stations.

The fountain was manufactured by the Val d’Osne Foundry in France. It consists of an arched pediment with a central panel flanked by two pilasters. The base is extended on each side with a scroll casting containing bulrush bas relief. The foot of the pilasters are decorated with two sea serpents (symbolic protector of all things related to water.) Foliate relief is visible beneath the cornice.

The arch contains a large shell with scrolls surrounding the head of a Naiad. In Greek mythology, a Naiad was a female water nymph who guarded fountains, wells, and other bodies of fresh water. Her hair is braided and her head is bowed. Water falls from her open mouth into a demi-lune basin in the central panel. The original water goblets are missing probably removed with the awareness of public hygiene in the middle of the 20th century. Additional decorative bas-relief below the basin provides the illusion of support.

An identical fountain is located in Paris, on the Rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire.


  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Foliate, decorated with leaves or leaf like motif
  • Pediment, an element in architecture consisting of a gable placed above a horizontal structure supported by columns
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure

The Wallace Fountains, France

In the 19th century Sir Richard Wallace was a wealthy English art collector and philanthropist who lived in France. When the Franco Prussian war damaged many of the aqueducts in Paris there remained little access to clean water for many of the most needy Parisians. His solution to this problem was the erection of public drinking fountains. The first of 108 fountains was installed on Boulevard de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement in 1875. The remainder is distributed throughout France although most were installed in Paris. For a comprehensive list, description and photographs, click on this link http://www.fontaine-wallace.info/

There were three different type of cast iron fountains manufactured by the Val d’Osne Foundry: 1) wall mounted with a push button release for water, 2) a pedestal fountain that provided a permanent albeit minimum flow of water, and 3) a work of art by the French sculptor, Charles-Auguste Lebourg. The latter form is the model that we shall discuss.


The base of the famous forest green fountain (the colour chosen to blend in with parks and trees) is a Greek cross plinth with canted corners from which the pedestal arises. An elaborate console decorated with a scallop shell from which a string of pearls flows separates four column panels on which the image of a water serpent is coiled around a trident. The trident is associated with the mythological Poseidon who struck the earth and water sprung up. A scallop is symbolic of baptism and fertility, and pearls represent purity and wisdom.

The cornice contains the name of the manufacturer, Val D’Osne, and another records the name of the sculptor, Ch. Lebourg SC / 1872. Four caratytids each subtly different in posture and dress, stand with raised arms to support a fish scale dome with fleur-de-lys cornice. The four dolphins with entwined tails at the apex is a symbolic protector of all things related to water.

The statues in feminine form represent kindness, simplicity, charity and sobriety (at a time when the Temperance Movement was very active.) They also represent the 4 seasons: Simplicity symbolizes spring, Charity: summer, Sobriety: autumn and Kindness: winter. The statues differ from each other in several other ways: Simplicity and Sobriety have their eyes closed; whereas the eyes of Kindness and Charity are open. They are also different in the position of the knee and feet, or by the manner in which their tunic is knotted at the bodice.

A stream of water descended from the interior of the dome into a basin. Tin cups were originally chained to the fountains until public hygiene became a prevalent social issue.

A Wallace Fountain can be seen outside the Wallace Collection in London, the gallery that houses the works of art collected by Sir Richard Wallace and the first four Marquesses of Hertford.

A Wallace Fountain can be seen outside the Wallace Collection in London, the gallery that houses the works of art collected by Sir Richard Wallace and the first four Marquesses of Hertford.


  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Caryatid, a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.