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The Fountains

The Fountains

Peterhof
 
 

The Whale Fountain

At the point where the quiet and rather isolated western section of the park joins the noisy, festive Central Area, we find a typically Baroque figured pool. It is 135 metres long and 57 metres wide, and was built by the hydraulic engineer Tuvolkov in 1724 and 1725, from plans by Michetti. The pool was designed for a fountain, but for many years remained without one. It was only in 1739 and 1740 that the Sandy Pond, as it came to be called, was transformed, when the founder Piotr Lukovnikov and the metalworker Alexey Kulomzin made four lead sculptures of Sea Bulls, and a large Whale Fish of Russian folk tales was carved in wood, from drawings by Blank and Davydov and a model by Ossner. These sculptures of fantastic creatures were painted by Hendrik van Bronkhorst, and set up in the centre of the pool. The sloping banks were levelled out and turfed under the direction of Bernhard Fock, the master-gardener. The fountain-builder Sualem ran lead pipes into the head and mouth of the Whale and into the jaws of the Sea Bulls, and from these jets of water spurted upwards.

The Whale Fountain remained like this for sixty years. In 1800 the deformed sculptures were removed and a menager fountain, surrounded by four spouting dolphins was built in their place by Fiodor Strelnikov. This remained until 1885, when the fountains in the Sandy Pond were shut off because of faults in the pipes; the dolphin figures were later removed. It was only in 1963 that restorers recreated the fountain as it was depicted in drawings and plans of the 1800s, thus filling an important gap in the fountain displays of the park. Once again the hollow menager fountain rises vertically above the still surface of the water, and parabolic jets gush from the jaws of the four glittering dolphins.



The Whale Fountain.
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Artistic director - Valery Gergiev (Mariinky (Kirov) Opera and Ballet)

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