This painted cast iron fountain is typical of the street fountains that were located in and around Paris starting in the second half of the 1800s, during a period of heavy construction. It is based on the original design by the famous Val D'Osne iron works (see black and white photo below). The depiction is Neptune, God of Water or Sea, holding a stylized dolphin, which doubles as the spout. An identical fountain by Val D'Osne is located in a park in Néris-les-Bains, in Auvergne France.
The fountain is made up of 3 indivdual sections: the back, the basin, and the grille. There is a hole for drainage in the basin, and it can be used indoors or out. Upon inspection, you can see a crack on the left side, but this is largely superficial and the piece is sturdy.
Fountains and other iron ornaments like this were known as Fonte D'Art. Each piece begins with a model carved from either wood or stone. The detail of wooden carving cannot be matched by stone. After a hardened layer of sand or clay is is applied to the carving making a mold. Hot smelted iron is then poured into the mold. When it cools and hardens, the sculpture is removed and cleaned/sanded. Northen France was the center point for creating cast iron art in the 19th and 20th centuries. The area contained the best iron ore in France, plenty of lumber for the furnaces, and lots of sand for making the molds. In fact iron has been made in this area for more than 2000 years, responsible for many of Europes early swords, shields, and other iron implements.
CONDITION: Good condition, with rusting, and a hairline crack that does not affect structural strength H=60, D=22 1/2, Width of Base=35 1/8
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