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The Fountains

The Fountains


The Sun Fountain

During the first years of the construction of the Monplaisir Palace, a special place was set aside near the intersection of the Monplaisir and Marly Avenues for a small menagerie. In 1718 and 1719 Braunstein and Le Blond made a large rectangular reservoir, twenty-nine metres wide and sixty metres long, in this area; it was called the Menagerie Pool; swans and other aquatic birds were kept here. Soon after this, the area was laid out as a formal garden. Between 1721 and 1724 a fountain was set up in the middle of the Menagerie Pool after a design by Michetti, partially revised by Braunstein and Zemtsov; this took the form of a powerful column of water, encircled by a garland of twenty low parabolic jets, apparently spouting from under the surface of the water. On either side of the pool, elegant wooden aviaries for rare singing birds were built from Michetti's designs in 1721 and 1722. Their facades were decorated with tufa rock-work and sea-shells, and their domes and walls were painted inside with various ornaments and figures of mythological characters. Behind the Eastern Aviary an oval Swan Pool was dug, and sculptures were placed symmetrically on the green lawns. Fifty years later Yakovlev and Velten turned the Petrine Menagerie Pool into a private royal bathing-place, shut in by high walls with painted decorations. In the middle of it was a cylindrical pedestal faced with tufa and edged with sixteen gilded lead dolphins, spouting jets of water from their mouths. The central jet was enclosed in a tin fluted pillar, crowned by a triple gilt disc with holes around the edge. A water-wheel was concealed in the pedestal, and when the fountain was started up, it began to revolve the pillar; jets of water spurted out like rays of sunlight from the disc, and thus the fountain came to be called the Sun Fountain.

It was not until the year 1926, when the crumbling walls of the bathing-pool were removed, that the pool with its fountain once again became part of the park's layout and the focal point of the Menagerie Garden.

During the occupation of 1941-44, the Menagerie Garden and the Sun Fountain suffered great damage. During restoration work in 1956 and 1957, sixteen bronze dolphins were cast to replace the stolen lead ones, using two surviving sculptures as models. The fluted pillar and the complex triple disc, with openings for the jets of water, were made from bronze. The water-wheel was restored, using surviving parts, and thus this unique mechanical fountain of the eighteenth century was again put in working order.

The Sun Fountain

The Sun Fountain
in the Menagerie Pool.


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