Fontaine Saint-Sulpice

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File:Fontaine Saint-Sulpice Paris 2008-03-14 .jpg
Fontaine Saint-Sulpice (1843-1848)

The Fontaine Saint-Sulpice (also known as the Fontaine de la place Saint-Sulpice or as the Fontaine des Orateurs-Sacré) is a monumental fountain located in Place Saint-Sulpice in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. It was constructed between 1843 and 1848 by the architect Louis Visconti, who also designed he tomb of Napoleon.

The four figures on the fountain represent four French religious figures of the 17th century famous for their eloquence.

  • Bossuet, North, statue by Jean-Jacques Feuchère
  • Fénelon, East, statue by François Lanno
  • Fléchier, West, statue by Louis Desprez
  • Massillon, South, statue by Jacques-Auguste Fauginet, completed by Fouquiet after the death of Fauginet.

History of the Fontaine Saint-Sulpice

The fountain was commissioned by Rambuteau, the prefet of the Seine in the government of King Louis-Philippe I. Rambuteau took office in 1833 and began an amibitious program to improve the city water supply and build new fountains. He built 200 kilometers of new water mains and, more important, 1700 small fountains around Paris to supply water, so that monumental fountains could be purely decorative, and did not have to provide drinking water. The most important monumental fountains he constructed were the Fontaines de la Concorde in the Place de la Concorde (1840); the fountains of the Champs-Elysees;(1839–40) the Fontaine Molière (1841–1844); the Fontaine Cuvier (1840–1846) and the Fontaine Saint-Sulpice.

Rambuteau ordered that the theme of the fountain would be religious elequence, since the fountain was placed in front of a church and near an important seminary. Visconti prepared several different projects in March 1843 to the Conseil des batiments civil. After some modifications, the project was approved and construction took place between 1843 and 1848, and was completed in the year when the Revolution of 1848 brought down the government of Louis-Philippe.

The final fountain had two distinct parts; the fountain itself, composed of three octagonal basins. The second basin was decorated with sculptures of lions made of stone from Derre, which had the coat of arms of Paris; and the third had masks which spouted water. The second part of the fountain was the religious structure; a quatrilateral edifice with four niches, with a dome, corinthian pilasters, and four niches which contained the statues of the orators.

The fountain was criticized when it opened; first, because it hid the entrance of the church; second, because of the incoherence of the iconography and details; one critic noted that the vases pouring water were "veritable cooking pots." Describing the lions, another critic wrote that "everything about them shows their irritation at the water pouring onto their rear ends.".

Sources and Citations



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  • Paris et ses fontaines de la Renaissance a nos jours, Delegation a l'action artistique de la Ville de Paris. directed by Beatrice de Andia. Paris, 1995.