Wallace fountain

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Wallace fountains
Paris Montmartre fontaine Wallace dsc07302.jpg
A Wallace fountain located in
the Montmartre district of Paris
DesignerCharles-Auguste Lebourg
MaterialCast iron
Beginning date1872
Dedicated toRichard Wallace

Wallace Fountains are public drinking fountains roughly designed by Sir Richard Wallace and sculpted by Charles-Auguste Lebourg. They are large cast-iron sculptures scattered throughout the city of Paris, France, mainly along the most-frequented sidewalks. They are named after the Englishman Richard Wallace, who financed their construction. A great aesthetic success, they are recognized worldwide as one of the symbols of Paris. 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.


During the Franco-Prussian War, Paris went through difficult times. The city was quickly rebuilt, despite the ravages it had suffered. In less than ten years, it was transformed, with new buildings (the Paris Opera, for example) and new boulevards (the Raspail and the St-Germain). Additionally, philanthropy was in fashion among the wealthy bourgeoisie, who financed numerous "good works" (such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army) to uphold their image.

Sir Richard Wallace[edit]

Sir Richard Wallace caricatured as a Wallace fountain, by Georges Lafosse published in Le Trombinoscope

Among these philanthropists, Sir Richard Wallace (1818–1890) was one of the most eclectic and reserved. Having inherited a large fortune from his father in August 1870, he decided that all Parisians should profit from it, which made him popular. Wallace's devotion led him to remain in his Parisian villa even as the city was besieged, rather than take refuge on one of his palatial estates, to be in Paris when he was needed.

He founded a hospital, where he personally welcomed victims of the bombings and distributed supplies, among his other efforts on behalf of Parisians at war. He remained faithful to his adopted nation, France, and is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Of his numerous contributions to Parisian heritage, the best known today are the fountains which bear his name.

Why fountains?[edit]

As a result of the siege of Paris and the Commune episode, many aqueducts had been destroyed, and the price of water, already higher than normal, increased considerably. Because of this, most of the poor had to pay for water. Moreover most of the water provided by vendors was drawn from the Seine river and was likely to be dirty, as run-off from streets and many of sewers drained into it. Hence it was safer to drink beer or other alcoholic beverages, and almost as cheap as water. The temptation to take to liquor was strong among the lower classes, and it was considered a moral duty to keep them from falling into alcoholism. Even today, when water and hygiene are not a problem for the majority of Parisians, these fountains are often the only sources of free water for the homeless.

The poor are not the only beneficiaries of these installations. Even if the aim of the fountains was to allow people of modest means to have access to drinking water, they are not the only ones who use them. Anyone passing by may quench his thirst, fulfilling this vital need. There was already a programme of constructing temperance fountains in both the United States and in the United Kingdom.

Not only did the fountains accomplish Wallace's philosophy of helping the needy, but they also beautified Paris.


Richard Wallace designed the fountains himself and intended them to be beautiful as well as useful. The fountains had to meet several strict guidelines:

  • Height: They had to be tall enough to be seen from afar but not so tall as to destroy the harmony of the surrounding landscape.
  • Form: Both practical to use and pleasing to the eye.
  • Price: Affordable enough to allow the installation of dozens.
  • Materials: Resistant to the elements, easy to shape, and simple to maintain.

The locations, as well as the color (a dark green, like all urban development of that era, in order to blend in with the parks and tree-lined avenues), were quickly chosen by the city government.

Wallace created two different models, which were followed by two additional models, thus there were four types of Wallace fountains varying in such properties as height and motif. They were made of cast iron. Inexpensive, easy to mold, and robust, it was one of the most popular materials of the age. The majority of the cost was paid for by Wallace. The city of Paris allocated 1,000 francs for the large model and 450 francs for the wall-mounted model.

The fountains are still molded by the historical foundry G.H.M


Wishing that his project be completed as rapidly as possible, Wallace called on Charles-Auguste Lebourg, a sculptor from Nantes whom he knew and whose talents were already renowned. Lebourg improved Wallace's sketches, already studied and thought-provoking, to make the fountains true works of art.

For the large model, Lebourg created four caryatids representing kindness, simplicity, charity and sobriety. Each one is different from her sisters, by the way she bends her knees and where her tunic is tucked into her blouse.

The four caryatids

Different models[edit]

The first two models (large model and applied model) were conceived and financed by Sir Richard Wallace. The two other models were created following the success of their predecessors inspired by the same styles and the resemblance is obvious. The more recent designs are not as strongly steeped in Wallace's aesthetic ideals, that in true Renaissance style, they should be useful, beautiful, and symbolic, in addition to being real works of art.

Large model[edit]

(size: 2.71 m, 610 kg)

The large model was conceived by Sir Richard Wallace, and was inspired by the Fontaine des Innocents. On a foundation of Hauteville stone rests an octagonal pedestal on which four caryatids are affixed with their backs turned and their arms supporting a pointed dome decorated by dolphins.

The water is distributed in a slender trickle issuing from the center of the dome and falls down into a basin that is protected by a grille. To make distribution easier, two tin-plated, iron cups attached to the fountain by a small chain were at the drinker's desire, staying always submerged for cleanliness. These cups were removed in 1952 "for Hygiene reasons" by demand of the Council of Public Hygiene of the old Department of the Seine.

For more information, see the Technical File (in French).

Wall-mounted model[edit]

(size: 1.96 m, 300 kg)

Sir Richard's other model.[1] In the middle of a semi-circular pediment, the head of a naiad issues a trickle of water that falls into a basin resting between two pilasters. Two goblets allowed the water to be drunk, but they were retired under the 1952 law cited above. This model, costing little to install, was to have been many units along the lengths of the walls of buildings with strong humanitarian focus, e.g. hospitals. This was not the case, and they do not remain today except for one situated on rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire.

Small model[edit]

(size: 1.32 m, 130 kg)

These are simple pushbutton fountains that one can find in squares and public gardens and are marked with the Parisian Seal (although the one installed on the Place des Invalides lacks this seal). They are familiar to mothers who bring their children to play in the many small parks in Paris.

Measuring only 4'-3" and weighing 286 lbs., they were commissioned by the mayor of Paris more frequently than its older sister models.

Colonnade model[edit]

(size: 2.50 m, a little more than 500 kg)

This model was the last to be realized. The general shape resembles that of the Large Model and the caryatids were replaced with small columns to reduce the cost of fabrication. The dome was also less pointy and the lower part more curved.

Although 30 of these were made, today there remain only two, one on rue de Rémusat and the other on avenue des Ternes.

The four models of Wallace fountains
A large model painted red
at Avenue d'Ivry
The applied model
The small model
The colonnade model


People drinking from a Wallace fountain during Bastille Day celebrations in 1911

The choice of the location of the fountains was left to the city of Paris. They needed to be placed at the will of the public in a practical manner and integrated in the most harmonious fashion with the environment. Most were placed in squares or at the intersections of two roads. The responsibility for choosing such locatioins fell to Eugene Belgrand, a hydraulic engineer and Director of Water and Sewers of Paris who worked with the prefect Georges Haussmann.


Most of the 100 grand model Wallace fountains currently in Paris function and distribute perfectly potable water. Once, these fountains were rare points of free water in the city, much to the relief of the homeless and poor. Today, they are among more than 1,200 points of free, clean drinking water dispensed to citizens and visitors by the city water company, Eau de Paris. Sir Richard Wallace has achieved his goal.

The fountains work from 15 March to 15 November (the risk of freezing during the months of winter would imperil the internal plumbing), are regularly maintained and are repainted every few years.

They are an integral part of the Parisian landscape, of the same importance as the Eiffel Tower or the street urchins of Montmartre. In Amélie, the cinegraphic piece about the glory of Parisian folklore, Jean-Pierre Jeunet baptised a personality Madeleine Wallace (she cried like a madeleine, or like a Wallace fountain), although the English subtitled version renamed the character of Madeleine, to Madeleine Wells for cultural understanding.

Wallace Fountains have been a beloved part of the Paris streetscape for almost 150 years. These monuments have never suffered from public criticism. They have always been respected. However, only two Wallace Fountains, both located in Place Louis Lépine, are classified as registered historic monuments.[2]

In 2018, the Society of the Wallace Fountains (La Société des Fontaines Wallace) was registered in France as an international, non-profit association governed by the French law of July 1901. The Society’s purpose is education and information. Its mission is to promote, preserve and protect the Wallace Fountains for future generation. In addition, the Society recognizes and encourages partnerships for the common good in the spirit of Sir Richard Wallace.



A large model at rue Jean-Anouilh

67 large model fountains[edit]

3rd arrondissement

  • Boulevard de Sébastopol, square Chautemps
  • Passage du Pont aux biches
  • Rue de la corderie, place Nathalie Lemel

4th arrondissement

5th arrondissement

  • Rue Poliveau, face rue de l'Essai
  • Place Maubert (fountain removed)
  • 37, rue de la Bûcherie
  • Rue des Patriarches

6th arrondissement

  • Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés
  • Place Saint-Sulpice
  • Pont Neuf, Quai des Grands Augustins
  • Rue Vavin, at rue Bréa
  • Place Saint-André-des-Arts
A large model at Esplanade Pierre-Vidal-Naquet

8th arrondissement

  • Rue de St-Pétersbourg, at rue de Turin
  • Av. des Champs-Élysées, Chevaux de Marly (north side)
  • Av. des Champs-Élysées, Chevaux de Marly (south side)

9th arrondissement

  • Place Gustave Toudouze
  • Place de Budapest

10th arrondissement

  • Place Juliette Dodu
  • Place Jacques Bonsergent
  • Place Robert Desnos

11th arrondissement

12th arrondissement

  • Cours de Vincennes, face Blvd de Picpus
  • Angle de St-Mandé, at rue du Rendez-vous
  • Rue Descot, face Mairie du XIIe arrondissement
A large model at boulevard Menilmontant

13th arrondissement

  • 82, avenue d'Italie
  • Rue de la Butte-aux-cailles, at rue de l'Espérance
  • ZAC Baudricourt, at avenue d'Ivry

14th arrondissement

  • Avenue Reille, at avenue René Coty
  • Place Jules Hénaffe
  • Place Edgard quinet, at rue de la Gaîté
  • Place Denfert-Rochereau, at Blvd Raspail
  • Avenue du Maine, face Mairie du XIVè arrondissement

15th arrondissement

  • Place Henri Rollet
  • 2, boulevard Pasteur
  • Place du Général Beuret
  • Place Charles Vallin

16th arrondissement

  • 10, boulevard Delessert
  • 194, avenue de Versailles
  • Place Jean Lorrain
  • Place de Passy
  • Place du Père Marcellin Campagnat
A large model at Esplanade Pierre-Vidal-Naquet

17th arrondissement

  • 112, avenue de Villiers
  • Place Aimé Maillard
  • 15, avenue Niel
  • 1, avenue de Wagram
  • 112, boulevard des Batignolles
  • Place de Lévis

18th arrondissement

  • Place Emile Goudeau
  • 42, boulevard Rochechouart
  • Rue Saint-Eleuthère, at rue Azaïs
  • Place des Abbesses
  • Rue de la Goutte d'or, at rue de Chartres

19th arrondissement

  • 214, boulevard de la Villette
  • 139, Rue Meaux at Rue du Rhin

20th arrondissement

  • Place Édith Piaf
  • 6, rue Eugène Belgrand
  • 29, boulevard de Ménilmontant
  • Place Maurice Chevalier
  • Rue Piat, face au square

11 small model fountains[edit]

A small model at the Place des Invalides

4th arrondissement

  • Place Louis Lepine
  • Quai de la Corse

7th arrondissement

  • Place des Invalides

11th arrondissement

  • 32, boulevard Richard Lenoir
  • 74, boulevard Richard Lenoir

13th arrondissement

  • Place Paul Verlaine

15th arrondissement

  • Place Alain Chartier
  • Place Saint Charles
  • 19, Place du Commerce
  • 35, boulevard Pasteur

17th arrondissement

  • 5, Place de Lévis

2 colonnaded fountains[edit]

16th arrondissement

  • Rue de Rémusat, at Rue de Mirabeau

17th arrondissement

  • Avenue des Ternes, at Place Pierre Demours

Wall-mounted model[edit]

5th arrondissement

Outside Paris[edit]


The sculptor who created the fountains, Charles Auguste Lebourg, was originally from Nantes. In addition to the Parisian fountains, a few were placed in Nantes in honor of their creator:

  • Place de la Bourse
  • Parc de la Gaudinière
  • Jardin des plantes, near the botanical garden
  • Jardin des Plantes, Boulevard Stalingrad, bas du jardin, near the entrance to "Gare SNCF"
  • Cours Cambronne
Fontaine de Montréal


On 6 October 1873, another philanthropist, Daniel Osiris, ordered six Large Model Fountains and asked the community of Bordeaux to install them. Three surviving fountains are to be found at:

  • Place du Général Sarrail
  • Jardin Public
  • Gardens of the Hôtel de Ville

More recent fountains are to be found at:

  • Place Mitchell (Mitchell was an Irishman who founded the city's first glassworks in rue de la Verrerie, creating the wine bottles that enabled the city to launch its international wine export trade)
  • Cours Xavier Arnozan (ex. Pavé des Chartrons)
  • Place Stalingrad
  • Place Porto-Riche


  • On rue Grenouilla at Boulevard de la République


  • Between rue du 11 novembre and la Place de Jaude


  • On Boulevard Richard Wallace

Saint-Denis, Réunion[edit]


  • At the municipal halls of the City


  • Corner boulevard de la Paix and avenue de Buros
A Wallace Fontaine in San Sebastian, Spain


  • In the Jardin Granvelle

Private ownership[edit]

Some wealthy people with artistic interests, as well as celebrity artists, bought them for their pleasure. This was the case with Maurice Chevalier, who had them in his ownership in Marnes-la-Coquette, and Brigitte Bardot.

Outside France[edit]

Including Barcelona, Germany, Portugal, Italy, England, Northern Ireland, Zürich, Rio de Janeiro, Canada (Quebec), New Orleans, Montevideo, Jordan, Israel, Russia and Macau, Tbilisi



Jardim Tunduru Botanical Gardens, Maputo

The fountain is in the Jardim Tunduru Botanical Gardens in Maputo.



12 fountains were donated to Barcelona for the 1888 World Fair. Only 3 are remaining:

  • La Rambla avenue, next to the wax museum.
  • Intersection of Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes with Passeig de Gràcia). One of the 4 caryatids is affectionately nicknamed Vera.
  • Office premises of the Barcelona water distribution company in the district of Collblanc.
  • On the Reina Sofia park. Donated by Juan Romero Rodriguez to the city of Ferrol after he purchased it for 1000 reales at the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris.[3][4]


  • The fountain is on the southern corner of Piazza Unità d'Italia.
Northern Ireland[edit]


  • Castle Gardens.
  • Market Square, now relocated to Wallace Park, Lisburn
A Wallace fountain in Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich


  • In Pestalozzi Park along the Bahnhofstrasse.


  • Promenade des Bastions (near The Reformation Wall).




Rio de Janeiro

  • Praça Dom Romualdo.
  • Parque da Cidade.
  • Alto da Boa Vista.
  • Jardim Botânico.
  • Praça Dom João Esberard.
  • Igreja Nossa Senhora do Desterro.
Quebec, Canada[edit]
  • In Isabelle Park, on the corner of rue Dufferin and boulevard Leclerc. Installed in 1956, the fountain was a gift from France to celebrate Granby's "French Week".[5]
Quebec City
  • One at the intersection of Grande-Allée and rue Cartier; another on rue Saint-Paul, by the turning to ruelle Légaré.
California, United States[edit]
Los Angeles
Louisiana, United States[edit]
New Orleans
  • In Latrobe Park along Decatur Street, near the French Market.[6]

Middle East[edit]



  • In Paris Circle, near the French Institute, in Jebel Al Weibdeh.[7]
Wallace Fountain in Paris Circle, Amman, Jordan




Macau SAR[edit]

The Wallace Fountain in Macau is known as 和麗女神噴泉 in Chinese and A Fonte Wallace in Portuguese.

  • Inside Jardim de S. Francisco on Rua do Campo, set up in 2004
  • Between Rua do Regedor and Rua Correia da Silva of Taipa Village, set up in 2005

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Marie-Hélène Levadé and Hugues Marcouyeau, Les fontaines de Paris : l'eau pour le plaisir. Paris, 2008 ISBN 978-2-915345-05-6 (in French)
  • Daniel Rabreau, Paris et ses fontaines. Paris, 1997 ISBN 978-2-905118-80-6 (in French)

External links[edit]