Young Brunette Girl Posing At The Water Fountain
A fountain (from the Latin "fons" or "fontis", a source or spring) is a piece of architecture which pours water into a basin or jets it into the air either to supply drinking water or for decorative or dramatic effect.
Fountains were originally purely functional, connected to springs or aqueducts and used to provide drinking water and water for bathing and washing to the residents of cities, towns and villages. Until the late 19th century most fountains operated by gravity, and needed a source of water higher than the fountain, such as a reservoir or aqueduct, to make the water flow or jet into the air.
In addition to providing drinking water, fountains were used for decoration and to celebrate their builders. Roman fountains were decorated with bronze or stone masks of animals or heroes. In the Middle Ages, Moorish and Muslim garden designers used fountains to create miniature versions of the gardens of paradise. King Louis XIV of France used fountains in the Gardens of Versailles to illustrate his power over nature. The baroque decorative fountains of Rome in the 17th and 18th centuries marked the arrival point of restored Roman aqueducts and glorified the Popes who built them.
By the end of the 19th century, as indoor plumbing became the main source of drinking water, urban fountains became purely decorative. Mechanical pumps replaced gravity and allowed fountains to recycle water and to force it high into the air. The Jet d'Eau in Lake Geneva, built in 1951, shoots water 140 meters in the air. The highest such fountain in the world is King Fahd's Fountain in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which spouts water 260 meters (853 feet) above the Red Sea.
Fountains are used today to decorate city parks and squares; to honor individuals or events; for recreation and for entertainment. A Splash pad or spray pool allows city residents to enter, get wet and cool off in summer. The musical fountain combines moving jets of water, colored lights and recorded music, controlled by a computer, for dramatic effects. Drinking fountains provide clean drinking water in public buildings, parks and public spaces.
History of fountains
Ancient civilizations built stone basins to capture and hold precious drinking water. A carved stone basin, dating to around 2000 BC, was discovered in the ruins of the ancient Sumerian city of Lagash in modern Iraq. The ancient Assyrians constructed a series of basins in the gorge of the Comel River, carved in solid rock, connected by small channels, descending to a stream. The lowest basin was decorated with carved reliefs of two lions. The ancient Egyptians had ingenious systems for hoisting water up from the Nile for drinking and irrigation, but without a higher source of water it was not possible to make water flow by gravity, and no Egyptian fountains or pictures of fountains have been found.
The ancient Greeks were apparently the first to use aqueducts and gravity-powered fountains to distribute water. According to ancient historians, fountains existed in Athens, Corinth, and other ancient Greek cities in the 6th century BC as the terminating points of aqueducts which brought water from springs and rivers into the cities. In the 6th century BC the Athenian ruler Peisistratos built the main fountain of Athens, the Enneacrounos, in the Agora, or main square. It had nine large cannons, or spouts, which supplied drinking water to local residents.
Greek fountains were made of stone or marble, with water flowing through bronze pipes and emerging from the mouth of a sculpted mask that represented the head of a lion or the muzzle of an animal. Most Greek fountains flowed by simple gravity, but they also discovered how to use principle of a siphon to make water spout, as seen in pictures on Greek vases.
Ancient Roman fountains
The Ancient Romans built an extensive system of acqueducts from mountain rivers and lakes to provide water for the fountains and baths of Rome. The Roman engineers used lead pipes instead of bronze to distribute the water throughout the city. The excavations at Pompeii, which revealed the city as it was when it was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, uncovered free-standing fountains and basins placed at intervals along city streets, fed by siphoning water upwards from lead pipes under the street. The excavations of Pompeii also showed that the homes of wealthy Romans often had a small fountain in the atrium, or interior courtyard, with water coming from city water supply and spouting into a small bowl or basin.
Ancient Rome was a city of fountains. According to Sextus Julius Frontinus, the Roman consul who was named curator aquarum or guardian of the water of Rome in 98 AD, Rome had nine aqueducts which fed 39 monumental fountains and 591 public basins, not counting the water supplied to the Imperial household, baths and owners of private villas. Each of the major fountains was connected to two different aqueducts, in case one was shut down for service.
The Romans were able to make fountains jet water into the air, by using the pressure of water flowing from a distant and higher source of water to create hydraulic head, or force. Illustrations of fountains in gardens spouting water are found on wall paintings in Rome from the 1st century BC, and in the villas of Pompeii. The Villa of Hadrian in Tivoli featured a large swimming basin with jets of water. Pliny the Younger described the banquet room of a Roman villa where a fountain began to jet water when visitors sat on a marble seat. The water flowed into a basin, where the courses of a banquet were served in floating dishes shaped like boats.
Roman engineers built aqueducts and fountains throughout the Roman Empire. Examples can be found today in the ruins of Roman towns in Vaison-la-Romaine and Glanum and in France, in Augst, Switzerland, and other sites.
During the Middle Ages, Roman aqueducts were wrecked or fell into decay, and many fountains throughout Europe stopped working, so fountains existed mainly in art and literature, or in secluded monasteries or palace gardens. Fountains in the Middle Ages were associated with the source of life, purity, wisdom, innocence, and the Garden of Eden. In illuminated manuscripts like the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (1411–1416), the Garden of Eden was shown with a graceful gothic fountain in the center.
The cloister of a monastery was supposed to be a replica of the Garden of Eden, protected from the outside world. Simple fountains, called lavabos, were placed inside Medieval monasteries such as Le Thoronet Abbey in Provence and were used for ritual washing before religious services.
Fountains were also found in the enclosed medieval jardins d'amour, "gardens of courtly love" - ornamental gardens used for courtship and relaxion. The medieval romance The Roman de la Rose describes a fountain in the center of an enclosed garden, feeding small streams bordered by flowers and fresh herbs.
Some Medieval fountains, like the cathedrals of their time, illustrated biblical stories, local history and the virtues of their time. The Fontana Maggiore in Perugia, dedicated in 1278, is decorated with stone carvings representing prophets and saints, allegories of the arts, labors of the months, the signs of the zodiac, and scenes from Genesis and Roman history.
Medieval fountains, in the grim times of the Middle Ages, could also provide amusement. The gardens of the Counts of Artois at the Chateau de Herdin, built in 1295, contained famous fountains, called Les Merveilles de Herdin which could be triggered to drench surprised visitors.
Fountains of the Islamic World
The Ancient Persians built extensive water distribution systems consisting of underground channels (Qanat), connected to smaller underground canals (kariz), which provided water for drinking, bathing and irrigation, and for the ornamental Persian gardens. It is not known if the Persians had gravity-powered fountains, or if they simply used wells and mechanical ways to lift water.
After the Arab invasions of the 7th century, the traditional design of the Persian garden was used in the Islamic garden. Persian and Islamic gardens after the 7th century were traditionally enclosed by walls and were designed to represent paradise; the Persian word for enclosed space is 'pairi-daeza.' The chahar bagh, or paradise garden, was laid out in the form of a cross, with four channels representing the rivers of paradise, dividing the four parts of world. Water sometimes spouted from a fountain in the center of the cross, representing the spring or fountain, Salsabil, described in the Qu'ran as the source of the rivers of Paradise.
In the 9th century, the Banū Mūsā brothers, a trio of Persian inventors, were commissioned by the Caliph of Baghdad to summarize the engineering knowledge of the ancient Greek and Roman world. They wrote a book entitled the Book of Ingenious Devices, describing the works of the 1st century Greek Engineer Hero of Alexandria and other engineers, plus many of their own inventions. They described fountains which formed water into different shapes and a wind-powered water pump, but It is not known if any of their fountains were ever actually built.
The palaces of Moorish Spain, particularly the Alhambra in Granada, had famous fountains. The patio of the Sultan in the gardens of Generalife in Granada (1319) featured spouts of water pouring into a basin, with channels which irrigated orange and myrtle trees. The garden was modified over the centuries - the jets of water which cross the canal today were added in the 19th century. The fountain in the Court of the Lions of the Alhambra, built from 1362–1391, is a large vasque mounted on twelve stone statues of lions. Water spouts upward in the vasque and pours from the mouths of the lions, filling four channels dividing the courtyard into quadrants. The basin dates to the 14th century, but the lions spouting water are believed to be older, dating to the 11th century.
The design of the Islamic garden spread throughout the Islamic world, from Moorish Spain to the Mughal Empire in the Indian subcontinent. The Shalimar Gardens (Lahore) built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1641, were said to be ornamented with 410 fountains, which fed into a large basin, canal and marble pools.
In the Ottoman Empire, rulers often built fountains next to mosques so worshippers could do their ritual washing. Examples include the Fountain of Qasim Pasha (1527), Temple Mount, Jerusalem, an ablution and drinking fountain built during the Ottoman reign of Suleiman the Magnificent; and the Fountain of Ahmed III (1728), at the Topkapı Palace, Istanbul. Palaces themselves often had small decorated fountains, which provided drinking water, cooled the air, and made a pleasant splashing sound. One surviving example is the Fountain of Tears (1764) at the Bakhchisarai Palace, in Crimea; which was made famous by a poem of Alexander Pushkin.
Renaissance fountains (15th–17th centuries)
In the 14th century, Italian humanist scholars began to rediscover and translate forgotten Roman texts on architecture by Vitruvius, on hydraulics by Hero of Alexandria, and descriptions of Roman gardens and fountains by Pliny the Younger Pliny the Elder, and Varro. The treatise on architecture, De re aedificatoria, by Leon Battista Alberti, which described in detail Roman villas, gardens and fountains, became the guidebook for Renaissance builders.
In Rome Pope Nicholas V (1397–1455), himself a scholar who commissioned hundreds of translations of ancient Greek classics into Latin, decided to embellish the city and make it a worthy capital of the Christian world. In 1453 he began to rebuild the Acqua Vergine, the ruined Roman aqueduct which had brought clean drinking water to the city from eight miles (13 km) away. He also decided to revive the Roman custom of marking the arrival point of an aqueduct with a mostra, a grand commemorative fountain. He commissioned the architect Leon Battista Alberti to built a wall fountain where the Trevi Fountain is now located. The aqueduct he restored, with modifications and extensions, eventually supplied water to the Trevi Fountain and the famous baroque fountains in the Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Navona.
One of the first new fountains to be built in Rome during the Renaissance was the fountain in the piazza in front of the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, (1472), which was placed on the site of an earlier Roman fountain. Its design, based on an earlier Roman model, with a circular vasque on a pedestal pouring water into a basin below, became the model for many other fountains in Rome, and eventually for fountains in other cities, from Paris to London.
In 1503, Pope Julius II decided to recreate a classical pleasure garden in the same place. The new garden, called the Cortile del Belvedere, was designed by Donato Bramante. The garden was decorated with the Pope's famous collection of classical statues, and with fountains. The Venetian Ambassador wrote in 1523, "...On one side of the garden is a most beautiful loggia, at one end of which is a lovely fountain that irrigates the orange trees and the rest of the garden by a little canal in the center of the loggia... The original garden was split in two by the construction of the Vatican Library in the 16th century, but a new fountain by Carlo Maderno was built in the Cortile del Belvedere, with a jet of water shooting up from a circular stone bowl on an octagonal pedestal in a large basin.
In 1537, in Florence, Cosimo I de' Medici, who had become ruler of the city at the age of only 17, also decided to launch a program of aqueduct and fountain building. The city had previously gotten all its drinking water from wells and reservoirs of rain water, which meant that there was little water or water pressure to run fountains. Cosimo built an aqueduct large enough for the first continually-running fountain in Florence, the Fountain of Neptune in the Piazza della Signoria (1560–1567). This fountain featured an enormous white marble statue of Neptune, resembling Cosimo, by sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati.
Under the Medicis, fountains were not just sources of water, but advertisements of the power and benevolence of the city's rulers. They became central elements not only of city squares, but of the new Italian Renaissance garden. The great Medici Villa at Castello, built for Cosimo by Benedetto Varchi, featured two monumental fountains on its central axis; one showing with two bronze figures representing Hercules slaying Antaeus, symbolizing the victory of Cosimo over his enemies; and a second fountain, in the middle of a circular labyrinth of cypresses, laurel, myrtle and roses, had a statue bronze statue by Giambologna showed the goddess Venus wringing her hair. The planet Venus was governed by Capricorn, which was the emblem of Cosimo; the fountain symbolized that he was the absolute master of Florence.
By the middle Renaissance, fountains had become a form of theater, with cascades and jets of water coming from marble statues of animals and mythological figures. The most famous fountains of this kind were found in the Villa d'Este (1550–1572), at Tivoli near Rome, which featured a hillside of basins, fountains and jets of water, as well as a fountain which produced music by pouring water into a chamber, forcing air into a series of flute-like pipes. The gardens also featured giochi d'acqua, water jokes, hidden fountains which suddenly soaked visitors. Between 1546-1549, the merchants of Paris built the first Renaissance-style fountain in Paris, the Fontaine des Innocents, to commemorate the ceremonial entry of the King into the city. The fountain, which originally stood against the wall of the church of the Holy Innocents, as rebuilt several times and now stands in a square near Les Halles. It is the oldest fountain in Paris.
Henry constructed an Italian-style garden with a fountain shooting a vertical jet of water for his favorite mistress, Diana de Poitiers, next to the Château de Chenonceau (1556–1559). At the royal Château de Fontainebleau, he built another fountain with a bronze statue of Diane, goddess of the hunt, modeled after Diane de Poitiers.
Later, after the death of Henry II, his widow, Catherine de Medici, expelled Diana de Poitiers from Chenonceau and built her own fountain and garden there.
King Henry IV of France made an important contribution to French fountains by inviting an Italian hydraulic engineer, Tomasso Francini, who had worked on the fountains of the villa at Pratalino, to make fountains in France. Francini became a French citizen in 1600, built the Medici Fountain, and during the rule of the young King Louis XIII, he was raised to the position of Intendant général des Eaux et Fontaines of the KIng, a position which was hereditary. His descendants became the royal fountain designers for Louis XIII and for Louis XIV at Versailles.
In 1630 another Medici, Marie de Medici, the widow of Henry IV, built her own monumental fountain in Paris, the Medici Fountain, in the garden of the Palais du Luxembourg. That fountain still exists today, with a long basin of water and statues added in 1866.
Baroque fountains (17th-18th century)
• Baroque Fountains of Rome
The 17th and 18th century was a golden age for fountains in Rome, which began with the reconstruction of ruined Roman aqueducts and the construction by the Popes of mostra, or display fountains, to mark their termini. The new fountains were expressions of the new Baroque art, which was officially promoted by the Catholic Church as a way to win popular support against the Protestant Reformation; the Council of Trent had declared in the 16th century that the Church should counter austere Protestantism with art that was lavish, animated and emotional. The fountains of Rome, like the paintings of Rubens, were examples of the principles of Baroque art. They were crowded with allegorical figures, and filled with emotion and movement. In these fountains, sculpture became the principal element, and the water was used simply to animate and decorate the sculptures. They, like baroque gardens, were "a visual representation of confidence and power."
The first of the Fountains of St. Peter's Square, by Carlo Maderno, (1614) was one of the earliest Baroque fountains in Rome, made to compliment the lavish Baroque façade he designed for St. Peter's Basilica behind it. It was fed by water from the Paola aqueduct, restored in 1612, whose source was 266 feet (81 m) above sea level, which meant it could shoot water twenty feet up from the fountain. Its form, with a large circular vasque on a pedestal pouring water into a basin and an inverted vasque above it spouting water, was imitated two centuries later in the Fountains of the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
The Triton Fountain in the Piazza Barberini (1642), by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is a masterpiece of Baroque sculpture, representing Triton, half-man and half-fish, blowing his horn to calm the waters, following a text by the Roman poet Ovid in the Metamorphoses. The Triton fountain benefited from its location in a valley, and the fact that it was fed by the Aqua Felice aqueduct, restored in 1587, which arrived in Rome at an elevation of 194 feet (59 m) above sea level (fasl), a difference of 130 feet (40 m) in elevation between the source and the fountain, which meant that the water from this fountain jetted sixteen feet straight up into the air from the conch shell of the triton.
The Piazza Navona became a grand theater of water, with three fountains, built in a line on the site of the Stadium of Domitian. The fountains at either end are by Giacomo della Porta; the Neptune fountain to the north, (1572) shows the God of the Sea spearing an octopus, surrounded by tritons, sea horses and mermaids. At the southern end is Il Moro, possibly also a figure of Neptune riding a fish in a conch shell. In the center is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, (The Fountain of the Four Rivers) (1648–51), a highly theatrical fountain by Bernini, with statues representing rivers from the four continents; the Nile, Danube, Plate River and Ganges. Over the whole structure is a 54-foot (16 m) Egyptian obelisque, crowned by a cross with the emblem of the Pamphili family, representing Pope Innocent X, whose family palace was on the piazza. The theme of a fountain with statues symbolizing great rivers was later used in the Place de la Concorde (1836–40) and in the Fountain of Neptune in the Alexanderplatz in Berlin (1891). The fountains of Piazza Navona had one drawback- their water came from the Acqua Vergine, which had only a 23-foot (7.0 m) drop from the source to the fountains, which meant the water could only fall or trickle downwards, not jet very high upwards.
The Trevi Fountain is the largest and most spectacular of Rome's fountains, designed to glorify the three different Popes who created it. It was built beginning in 1730 at the terminus of the reconstructed Acqua Vergine aqueduct, on the site of Renaissance fountain by Leon Battista Alberti. It was the work of architect Nicola Salvi and the successive project of Pope Clement XII, Pope Benedict XIV and Pope Clement XIII, whose emblems and inscriptions are carried on the attic story, entablature and central niche. The central figure is Oceanus, the personification of all the seas and oceans, in an oyster-shell chariot, surrounded by Tritons and Sea Nymphs.
In fact, the fountain had very little water pressure, because the source of water was, like the source for the Piazza Navona fountains, the Acqua Vergine, with a 23-foot (7.0 m) drop. Salvi compensated for this problem by sinking the fountain down into the ground, and by carefully designing the cascade so that the water churned and tumbled, to add movement and drama. Wrote historians Maria Ann Conelli and Marilyn Symmes, "On many levels the Trevi altered the appearance, function and intent of fountains and was a watershed for future designs."
• Baroque fountains of Versailles
Beginning in 1662, King Louis XIV of France began to build a new kind of garden, the Garden à la française, or French formal garden, at the Palace of Versailles. In this garden, the fountain played a central role. He used fountains to demonstrate the power of man over nature, and to illustrate the grandeur of his rule. In the Gardens of Versailles, instead of falling naturally into a basin, water was shot into the sky, or formed into the shape of a fan or bouquet. Dancing water was combined with music and fireworks to form a grand spectacle. These fountains were the work of the descendants of Tommaso Francini, the Italian hydraulic engineer who had come to France during the time of Henry IV and built the Medici Fountain and the Fountain of Diana at Fontainebleau.
Two fountains were the centerpieces of the Gardens of Versailles, both taken from the myths about Apollo, the sun god, the emblem of Louis XIV, and both symbolizing his power. The Fontaine Latone (1668–70) designed by André Le Nôtre and sculpted byGaspard and Balthazar Marsy, represents the story of how the peasants of Lycia tormented Latona and her children, Diana and Apollo, and were punished by being turned into frogs. This was a reminder of how French peasants had abused Louis's mother, Anne of Austria, during the uprising called the Fronde in the 1650s. When the fountain is turned on, sprays of water pour down on the peasants, who are frenzied as they are transformed into creatures.
The other centerpiece of the Gardens, at the intersection of the main axes of the Gardens of Versailles, is the Bassin d'Apollon (1668–71), designed by Charles Le Brun and sculpted by Jean Baptiste Tuby. This statue shows a theme also depicted in the painted decoration in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles: Apollo in his chariot about to rise from the water, announced by Tritons with seashell trumpets. Historians Mary Anne Conelli and Marilyn Symmes wrote, "Designed for dramatic effect and to flatter the king, the fountain is oriented so that the Sun God rises from the west and travels east toward the chateau, in contradiction to nature."
Besides these two monumental fountains, the Gardens over the years contained dozens of other fountains, including thirty-nine animal fountains in the labyrinth depicting the fables of Jean La Fontaine.
There were so many fountains at Versailles that it was impossible to have them all running at once; when Louis XIV made his promenades, his fountain-tenders turned on the fountains ahead of him and turned off those behind him. Louis built an enormous pumping station, the Machine de Marly, with fourteen water wheels and 253 pumps to raise the water three hundred feet from the River Seine, and even attempted to divert the River Eure to provide water for his fountains, but the water supply was never enough.
• Fountains of Peterhof
In Russia, Peter the Great founded a new capital at St. Petersburg in 1703 and built a small Summer Palace and gardens there beside the Neva River. The gardens featured a fountain of two sea monsters spouting water, among the earliest fountains in Russia.
n 1709, he began constructing a larger palace, Peterhof Palace, alongside the Gulf of Finland, Peter visited France in 1717 and saw the gardens and fountains of Louis XIV at Versailles, Marly and Fontainebleau. When he returned he began building a vast Garden à la française with fountains at Peterhof. The central feature of the garden was a water cascade, modeled after the cascade at the Château de Marly of Louis XIV, built in 1684. The gardens included trick fountains designed to drench unsuspecting visitors, a popular feature of the Italian Renaissance garden.,
In 1800-1802 the Emperor Paul I of Russia and his successor, Alexander I of Russia, built a new fountain at the foot of the cascade depicting Samson prying open the mouth of a lion, representing Peter's victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War in 1721. The fountains were fed by reservoirs in the upper garden, while the Samson fountain was fed by a specially-constructed aqueduct four kilometers in length.
19th century fountains
• Fountains of London
In the 19th century, major European cities, led by London and Paris, began to use aqueducts, artesian wells and steam pumps to supply drinking water directly to homes. Fountains gradually ceased to be sources of drinking water and became public monuments in city squares and parks, honoring national heroes and events.
The fountains in Trafalgar Square were not part of the original design of the square, which was created beginning in 1826 to commemorate the victory of Lord Nelson over the fleet of Napoleon Bonaparte 1805. The fountains were added in 1845 by architect Charles Barry, famous for designing the Houses of Parliament, to break up the vast open space of the square and also to reduce the space available for unruly street demonstrations. The fountains were powered by a steam engine behind the National Gallery, which pumped water that came from an Artesian Well.
The original fountains were replaced in 1938-47 with two new fountains designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, with sculptures by Sir Charles Wheeler and William McMillian, as monuments to two British naval heroes of the First World War, Lord John Jellicoe and Lord David Beatty. They were rebuilt again, with new pumps and lighting, in 2009.
The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain in Picadilly Circus, London.by Alfred Gilbert, features an aluminum statue of Anteros representing "The Angel of Christian Charity." It was built in 1893 to honor the British philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury, but instead it scandalized Londoners, who thought it was a statue of Eros.
• Fountains of Paris (1800–1900)
The supply of water and the building of fountains in Paris was a subject of prime concern for the new First Consul, Napoleon Bonaparte, beginning in 1799. In 1802 Napoleon ordered the construction of the first canal bringing water from a river outside the city, the canal d'Ourcq, which was finished in 1822. Napoleon also started construction of the Canal Saint-Denis (finished in 1821), and the Canal Saint-Martin (finished in 1825) which brought enough water for both drinking fountains and decorative fountains.
Napoleon then turned his attention to the fountains. In a decree issued May 2, 1806, he announced that it was his wish "to do something grand and useful for Paris" and proposed building fifteen new fountains. He also ordered the cleaning, repair or rebuilding of the many old fountains which had fallen into ruin, such as the Fontaine des Quatre-Saisons and the Medici Fountain. His engineers built new fountains in the city's major outdoor markets, and installed several hundred bornes-fontaines, simple stone blocks with a water tap, all over the city. In 1812, he issued a decree that the distribution of water from fountains would be free, and anyone who speculated in drinking water would be severely punished.
The early Napoleonic fountains, built before the canals were finished, were modest in scale and supplied with a limited amount of water, which poured through the traditional masquerons, or spouts. The later fountains by Napoleon, including the fountain in the Place de Vosges and the Chateau d'eau, were not used primarily for drinking water, and had water shooting into the air and cascading from the vasques into the basins below.
The fountain of the Chateau d'eau on boulevard Bondi (1812) was the first fountain in Paris where the water itself, and not the sculpture, was the chief decorative element. The Chateau d'eau fountain was also the first monumental fountain in Paris to feature two circular vasques, or stone basins, one above the other on a column, with water overflowing the basins and falling into a larger circular basin below. The novelty and scale of this fountain made it a popular promenade destination of Parisians. The fountain was moved in 1867, and today is located in front of the former Halle from the demolished Paris market of Les Halles located in la Villette.
The constitutional monarchy of King Louis-Philippe (1830–1848) was a brilliant age for Parisian fountains. The new Prefet of the Seine, Rambuteau, ordered the construction of two hundred kilometers of new water pipes and the installation of 1700 borne-fontaines, the simple blocks with water taps introduced by Napoleon. Thanks to these new fountains, which supplied drinking water to the population, the city's architects had the freedom to design new monumental fountains that were purely ornamental in the city's squares.
The Fontaines de la Concorde (1836–1840) in the Place de la Concorde are the most famous of the fountains built during the time of Louis-Philippe, and came to symbolize the fountains of Paris. They were designed by Jacques-Ignace Hittorff, a student of the neoclassical sculptor Charles Percier at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, who had served as the official Architect of Festivals and Ceremonies for the deposed King, and had spent two years studying the architecture and fountains of Italy. Hittorff's two fountains are both on martime themes, because of their proximity to the Ministry of Navy on the Place de la Concorde, and to the Seine. Their form and arrangement, on a north south axis aligned with the obelisque of Luxor and the Rue Royale; were influenced by the arrangement of the fountains in the Piazza Navona and Piazza San Pietro in Rome.
Several notable fountains were built in this period by the architect Louis Visconti, who later because famous as the architect of Napoleon's Tomb in the Invalides. His major works are the Fontaine Louvois (1839), in the new Place Louvois; with four female figures representing the rivers Seine, Loire, Garonne and Saône; the Fontaine Cuvier (1840–1846), dedicated to Georges Cuvier (1769–1832), the naturalist, and pioneer of paleontology and comparative anatomy, located near the Jardin des Plantes and the museum of natural history, where Cuvier had worked; the Fontaine Molière. (1841–44), near the site of the original theater of the Comédie Française, which features a statue of the playwright and two statues representing Light Comedy and Serious Comedy; and the Fountain Saint-Sulpice, (1843–1848), in front of the church of Saint-Sulpice, which honored four famous religious orators of the 17th century; Bossuet, Fénelon, Fléchier, and Massillon.
The Second French Republic (1848–1850) and subsequent Second Empire of Louis-Napoleon (1851–1870) was also a glorious age for Paris fountains. One of his highest priorities as Emperor was improving the quality of the water supply. At the time Paris had about sixty fountains supplying drinking water for the population, and a dozen fountains which were purely ornamental. Under his new prefet of the Seine, Baron Haussmann, and his new chief of the waters of Paris, Belgrand, the Paris water system was reconstructed so that water from springs, brought by acqueducts, was used exclusively for drinking water, while less healthy river water was used for washing the streets, watering gardens and parks, and for fountains. Historic fountains, including the Medici Fountain and Fontaine des Innocents, were rebuilt and moved to new locations. New fountains were built to decorate Haussmann's new squares and boulevards.
Most of the new monumental fountains built during the reign of Louis Napoleon were the work of a single architect, Gabriel Davioud. Davioud was architect of the service de promenades et plantations of the prefecture of the Seine. He was responsible for the design of many of the squares, gates, benches, pavilions, and other decorative architecture of the Second Empire. His most famous work is Fontaine Saint-Michel (1860). It was intended be the chief ornament of the enlarged Place Pont-Saint-Michel created by the new boulevard Sebastopol-rive gauche, now Boulevard Saint-Michel). Davioud's first design for the fountain had a statue of a woman symbolizing peace. This was changed to a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte, but when aroused opposition from enemies of Louis Napoleon, it became a statue of the Archangel Michael wrestling with the devil. Nine sculptors worked on the different figures in the composition. It was the last monumental fountain in Paris built against a wall.
After Louis Napoleon fell from power in 1870, the new government of the Third Republic kept Davioud as the chief architect of the city's fountains. His first task was to repair the damage caused to the fountains by the German siege of Paris and the fighting during the suppression of the Paris Commune, which had destroyed the Tuilieries Palace and the Hôtel de Ville.
Davioud completed two monumental fountains begun under the Second Empire. The most famous is the Fontaine de l'Observatoire, located between the Luxembourg Gardens and the Paris Observatory, which features four figures representing the four corners of the world holding up a celestial sphere. The sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Carpeaux, who had earlier made the sculptures of La Danse on the façade of the Paris Opera; aused a scandal with the realistic and expressive figures of the statues in the fountain, much different from the neo-classical sculptures of early 19th century.
Davioud also created two of the best-loved sculptures in Paris, the two fountains in the place André Malreaux, between the Louvre and the Comédie-Française, one a statue of a sea nymph and a one a river nymph, (1874).
Paris was also home to the Wallace fountains, donated to the city in 1872 by a British millionaire, temperance advocate and philanthropist, Sir Richard Wallace, who had spent much of his youth in Paris. Following a program he had already begun in London, he donated fifty cast-iron drinking fountains to the city of Paris to give the working classes a free source of water and to turn them from drinking alcohol. The sculptor of the fountains was Charles-Auguste Lebourg, a student of François Rude. The fountains were a popular success, and new ones were still being installed until the beginning of the First World War.
• Fountains in the United States (1800-1900)
The first monumental fountains in the United States were built to mark the termini of aqueducts bringing fresh drinking water into New York City. A cholera epidemic in 1832 and a disastrous fire in 1835 persuaded the government of New York City to build an aqueduct to bring abundant fresh water into the city. The Croton Dam, aqueduct and reservoir in New York were finished in 1841, bringing water forty miles from the Croton River to New York City. The first fountain in the U.S., the Groton Fountain in City Hall Park, was turned on on October 14, 1842, and jetted water fifty feet into the air. A second fountain in Union Square was also connected to the system. The first fountains were very simple, without sculpture, simply spouting water up into the air. The fountains no longer exist, though vestiges of the original water system remain.
In 1848 Boston completed its own new water system, an aqueduct from Lake Cochituate twenty miles (32 km) to the Boston Common, where the first fountain was located. A parade and festival were held to mark the opening of the fountain on October 25, 1848. The ceremony included schoolchildren singing an ode written by American poet James Russell Lowell for the event. The ode began:
"My name is Water: I have sped through strange dark ways untried before, By pure desire of friendship led, Cochituate's Ambassador: He sends four gifts by me, Long life, health, peace, and purity."
The first American fountains were simple and functional. Later, in the 1850s, new more decorative fountains appeared as part of a nationwide effort to beautify American cities by building parks, squares and fountains, inspired by European models.
The Bethesda Fountain was created to adorn New York City's new Central Park, which had been begun in 1858 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, to create a vast natural landscape in the heart of the city. In the middle of the park was one formal element; a mall with elm trees, and a terrace with views over a lake. In 1863 the Park Commissioners decided to build a monumental fountain for the central basin in the middle of th mall. The architect was a little-known American sculptor, Emma Stebbins, whose brother was the head of the New York Stock Exchange and President of the Board of Commissioners, who lobbied on her behalf. Her fountain was based on the biblical verse from the Gospel of Saint John, in which an Angel touched, or "troubled" the waters of the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, giving it healing powers. She wrote about the fountain: "We have no less healing, comfort and purification freely sent to us through the blessed gift of pure, wholesome water, which to all the countless homes of this great city comes like an angel visitant." It was criticized by some writers when it was opened in 1873- the New York Times called it "a feebly-pretty idealess thing", but gradually the fountain became a popular favorite, featured in many films and in recent times in the play Angels in America by Tony Kushner.
International Exposition fountains (1851-1937)
Some of the most innovative fountains ever made were temporary, created for international expositions between 1855 and 1964, designed to highlight the technology of their time. The first illuminated fountains and the first fountains designed to perform with music were introduced at international exhibitions.
The Crystal Fountain was the first of these fountains. Designed by Follett Osler, it was the world's first glass fountain, made of four tons of pure crystal glass. It was displayed in the central court of the Crystal Palace of the London Great Exhibition of 1851. It was destroyed by fire, along with the Crystal Palace, in 1936. The Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue of the Great Exhibition wrote in 1851 that the fountain was "perhaps the most striking object in the exhibition; the lightness and beauty, as well as the perfect novelty of the design, have rendered it the theme of admiration with all visitors. The ingenuity with which this has been effected is very perfect; it is supported by bars of iron, which are so completely embedded in the glass shafts, as to be invisible, and in no degree interfering with the purity and crystalline effect of the whole object.
The 1876 Centennial Exposition, in Philadelphia, celebrating the 100th birthday of the United States, featured the Bartholdi Fountain, made by the sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who later created the Statue of Liberty. Its vasque had a circle of gas lamps which shone on the cascading water, making it one of the first fountains to be illuminated. After the exposition the fountain was purchased by the United States Congress. It is now located now located at the corner of Independence Avenue and First Street, in the United States Botanic Garden, on the grounds of the United States Capitol, in Washington, D.C.
Eight universal expositions took place in Paris between 1855 and 1937, and each included fountains, both for decoration and for sale, which demonstrated the latest in technology and artistic styles. They introduced illuminated fountains, fountains which performed with music, fountains made of glass and concrete, and modern abstract fountains to Paris.
The Exposition Universelle (1889) which celebrated the 100th anniverary of the French Revolution. featured the Eiffel Tower, and a fountain illuminated by electric lights shining up though the columns of water, a method first developed in England in 1884. The fountains, located in a basin forty meters in diameter, were given color by plates of colored glass inserted over the lamps. The Fountain of Progress gave its show three times each evening, for twenty minutes, with a series of different colors.
The Exposition Universelle (1900) featured the Temple of Electricity, near the Champs Elysees, which had a series of illuminated fountains in front, with lamps shining blue, white and red light. The innovation of 1900 was a keyboard which allowed changing the colors in rapid succession.
The Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925). This fair introduced the first fountains made of modern materials and in the modernist style of the 20th century. The fountain by sculptor Gabriel Guevrekian was composed of four triangular basins, colored blue or red, and a fountain of glass in the center, surrounded by triangles of grass and flowers. It was the first fountain in Paris composed like a cubist painting.
The most original fountain in the exposition was Les Sources et les Rivières de France, made by René Lalique. It was a column of glass five meters high, made up of 128 caryatids of glass, each with a different decoration and size, each spraying a thin stream of water into the fountain below. At night the column was illuminated from within, and could change color. It was placed on a cross of concrete covered with decorated plates of glass, and in an ocagonal basin also decorated with colored and black tiles of glass.
'The Paris Colonial Exposition of 1931 introduced neon lights and the indirect outdoor lighting of Paris buildings, and featured eight different illuminated fountains.
The Théâtre d'eau, or water theater, located on one side of the lake, covering an arc of a circle of about 80 meters, created a performance of dancing water, forming changing bouquets, arches, and curtains of water from its jets and nozzles. It was the ancestor of the modern musical fountain.
The Pont d'eau was made by jets of water from both sides of Lake Daumesnil, which formed an illuminated water "bridge" forty meters long and six meters wide.
The Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (1937) had fountains on both sides of the Seine, at the Trocadero and on the Champ de Mars. Eight water jets were mounted on pontoons to form arches of water twenty meters long. and 174 submerged fountains were placed under the river surface. The choreography of the fountains was combined with light, and, for the first time, with music, amplified from loudspeakers from eleven rafts anchored in the river. The music featured compositions by the leading modern composers of the period, including Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, and Arthur Honegger.
The cascades, fountains and basins of the Jardins du Trocadéro, originally built for the 1878 exposition, were completely rebuilt for the 1937 exposition. The main feature was a long basin, or water mirror, with twelve fountain creating columns of water 12 meters high; twenty four smaller fountains four meters high; and ten arches of water. At one end, facing the Seine, were twenty powerful water cannon, able to project a jet of water fifty meters. Above the long basin were two smaller basins, linked with the lower basin by casades flanked by 32 sprays of water four meter high, in vasques. These fountains are the only exposition fountains which still exist today, and still function as they did.
The exhibit also featured two more unusual fountains; a fountain in the Spanish pavilion by the sculptor Alexander Calder, the Fontaine de Mercure, where a small metal structure created a flow of mercury, and a fountain of wine, imitating one once created for Louis XIV at Versailles.
20th century fountains
During the 20th century, fountains were freed entirely of the need to be sources of drinking water. The 20th century saw the introduction of new fountain materials (glass, concrete, plastic and steel) and especially new fountain technologies (electric lighting, amplified music, electric water pumps, and jets of water controlled by computer programs.) While most fountains were still pieces of sculpture with water added, an increasing number of fountains were designed by landscape architects, and were inspired by natural settings such as waterfalls and cascades. Other fountains had no architecture at all, but sprang up directly from water jets under the surface of canals or lakes, or directly from a grid of nozzles in a plaza. Spectators were invited to walk into the fountain and see it from the inside, to become part of the performance.
• Paris Fountains (1900-2000)
Twenty-eight new fountains were built in Paris between 1900 and 1940, mostly in the new parks and squares created by the removal of the ring of fortifications around the city. The most imaginative fountains were created for the paris International Expositions of 1900, 1925 and 1937 Of these only the fountains built for the 1937 exposition at the Palais de Chaillot still exist. The most original Paris modernist fountain of the time was the modern glass fountain made by René Lalique for the Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées (no longer existing).
The forms of pre-war Paris fountains were mostly classical, but subject matter of the new fountains varied widely: there is a fountain honoring composer Claude Debussy (The Fontaine Debussy, Place Debussy, 1932); a fountain honoring the engineer who discovered the first artesian well in Paris; a fountain honoring Emile Lavassor, the driver who won first Paris-Bordeaux automobile race in 1895; (Fontaine Lavassor, Porte Maillot); and two fountains in the 16th arrondissement devoted to love; the Fontaine des Amours in the Bagatelle garden (1919) and the Fountain de l'Amour, l'Eveil à la vie. (the awakening of life) in Place de la Porte d'Auteil.
Only a handful of fountains were built in Paris between 1940 and 1980. The most important ones built during that period were on the edges of the city, on the west, just outside the city limits, at La Defense, and to the east at the Bois de Vincennes. Then, between 1981 and 1995, during the terms of President Francois Mitterrand and Culture Minister Jack Lang, and of Mitterrand's bitter political rival, Paris Mayor Jacques Chirac the city experienced a program of monumental fountain building that exceeded that of Napoleon Bonaparte or Louis Philippe. More than one hundred fountains were built in Paris in the 1980s and 1990s, mostly in the neighborhoods outside the center of Paris, where there had been few fountains before. The Stravinsky Fountain, the Fountain of the Pyramid of the Louvre, the Buren Fountain and Les Sphérades fountain in the Palais Royale, the Fontaine du Parc Andre-Citroen, and new fountains at Les Halles, the Jardin de Reuilly, and beside the Gare Maine-Montparnasse were all built under President Mitterrand and Mayor Chirac.
Many of the fountains were designed by famous sculptors or architects, such as Jean Tinguely, I.M. Pei, Claes Oldenburg and Daniel Buren, who had radically different ideas of what a fountain should be. Some of them, like the Pyramide de Louvre fountain, had glistening sheets of water; while in the Buren Fountain in the Palais Royale, the water was invisible, hidden under the pavement of the fountain. Some of the new fountains were designed with the help of noted landscape architects and used natural materials, such as the fountain in the Parc Floral in the Bois de Vincennes by landscape architect Daniel Collin and sculptor François Stahly. Some were solemn, and others were whimsical. Most made little effort to blend with their surroundings - they were designed to attract attention.
• Fountains in the United States (1900-2000)
Fountains built in the United States between 1900 and 1950 mostly followed European models and classical styles. The handsome Samuel Francis Dupont Memorial Fountain, in Dupont Circle, Washington D.C., was built by Henry Bacon and Daniel Chester French, the architect and sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial, in 1921, in a pure neoclassical style. The Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park in Chicago was one of the first American fountains to use powerful modern pumps to shoot water as high as 150 feet (46 meters) into the air. The Fountain of Prometheus, built at Rockefeller Center in New York City in 1933, was the first American fountain in the Art-Deco style.
After World War II, fountains in the United States became more varied in form. Some, like the Vaillancourt Fountain in San Francisco (1971), were pure works of sculpture. The modernist French-Canadian Armand Vaillancourt built his monumental fountain at Embarcadero Plaza in San Francisco in a cubist style, though it was intended as a political statement - the official title is "Quebec Libre!" and the artist was arrested at the time of the opening for painting political slogans on his own fountain.
Other fountains, like the Frankin Roosevelt Memorial Waterfall (1997), by architect Lawrence Halprin, were designed as landscapes to illustrate themes. This fountain is part of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C., which has four outdoor "rooms" illustrating his Presidency. Each "room" contains a cascade or waterfall; the cascade in the third room illustrates the turbulence of the years of the World War II. Halprin wrote at an early stage of the design; "the whole environment of the memorial becomes sculpture: to touch, feel, hear and contact - with all the senses."
One of the most unusual modern American fountains is the Civil Rights Memorial (1989) at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, designed by Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.. This fountain features a low elliptical black granite table, with a thin surface of water flowing over the surface, over the inscribed names of civil rights leaders who lost their lives, illustrating the quotation from Martin Luther King Jr.: "...Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Visitors are invited to touch the names through the water. "The water is as slow as I could get it," Lin wrote. "It remains very still until you touch it. Your hand carves ripples, which transform and alter the piece, just as reading the words completes the piece."
• Contemporary Fountains (2001-2011)
The fountain called Bit.Fall by German artist Julius Popp (2005) uses digital technologies to spell out words with water. The fountain is run by a statistical program which selects words at random from news stories on the Internet. It then recodes these words into pictures. Then 320 nozzles inject the water into electromagnetic valves. The program uses rasterization and bitmap technologies to synchronize the valves so drops of water form an image of the words as they fall. According to Popp, the sheet of water is "a metaphor for the constant flow of information from which we cannot escape."
Crown Fountain is an interactive fountain and video sculpture feature in Chicago's Millennium Park. Designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, it opened in July 2004. The fountain is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of glass brick towers. The towers are 50 feet (15.2 m) tall, and they use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to display digital videos on their inward faces. Construction and design of the Crown Fountain cost $17 million. Weather permitting, the water operates from May to October, intermitently cascading down the two towers and spouting through a nozzle on each tower's front face.
La Danse de la fontaine emergente, Place Augusta-Holmes, Paris (13th arronissement) (2008), is the newest fountain in Paris. The fountain is designed to resemble a dragon winding its way around the square, emerging and submerging from the pavement. The skin of the dragon is transparent, showing the water flowing within. It is constructed of stainless steel, glass, and plastic. It was designed by the French-Chinese sculptor Chen Zhen (1955–2000)
The fountain is in three parts. A bas-relief of the dragon is fixed on the wall of the structure of the water-supply plant, and the dragon seems to be emerging from the wall and plunging underground. This part of the dragon is opaque. The second and third parts depict the arch of the dragon's back coming out of the pavement. These parts of the dragon are transparent, and water under pressure flows within, and is illuminated at night.
Musical fountains were first described in the 1st century AD by the Greek scientist and engineer Hero of Alexandria in his book Pneumatics. Hero described and provided drawings of "A bird made to whistle by flowing water," "A Trumpet sounded by flowing water," and "BIrds made to sing and be silent alternately by flowing water." In Hero's descriptions, water pushed air through musical instruments to make sounds. It is not known if Hero made working models of any of his designs.
During the Italian Renaissance, the most famous musical fountains were was located in the gardens of the Villa d'Este, in Tivoli. which were created between 1550 and 1572. Following the ideas of Hero of Alexandria, the Fountain of the Owl used a series of bronze pipes like flutes to make the sound of birds. The most famous feature of the garden was the great Organ Fountain. It was described by the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, who visited the garden in 1580: "The music of the Organ Fountain is true music, naturally created...made by water which falls with great violence into a cave, rounded and vaulted, and agitates the air, which is forced to exit through the pipes of an organ. Other water, passing through a wheel, strikes in a certain order the keyboard of the organ. The organ also imitates the sound of trumpets, the sound of cannon, and the sound of muskets, made by the sudden fall of water ... The Organ Fountain fell into ruins, but it was recently restored and plays music again.
Louis XIV created the idea of the modern musical fountain by staging spectacles in the Gardens of Versailles, using music and fireworks to accompany the flow of the fountains.
The great international expositions held in Philadelphia, London and Paris featured the ancestors of the modern musical fountain. They introduced the first fountains illuminated by gas lights (Philadelphia in 1876); and the first fountains illuminated by electric lights (London in 1884 and Paris in 1889). The Exposition Universelle (1900) in Paris featured fountains illuminated by colored lights controlled by a keyboard. The Paris Colonial Exposition presented the Théâtre d'eau, or water theater, located in a lake, with performance of dancing water. The Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (1937) had combined arches and columns of water from fountains in the Seine with light, and with music from loudspeakers on eleven rafts anchored in the river, playing the music of the leading composers of the time.
Today the best-known musical fountains are at the Bellagio Hotel Casino in Las Vegas and at the Dubai Fountain in the United Arab Emirates.
A splash fountain or bathing fountain is intended for people to come in and cool off on hot summer days. These fountains are designed to allow easy access, and feature nonslip surfaces, and have no standing water, to eliminate possible drowning hazards, so that no lifeguards or supervision is required. These splash pads are often located in public pools, public parks, or public playgrounds (known as "spraygrounds"). In some splash fountains, such as Dundas Square in Toronto, Canada, the water is heated by solar energy captured by the special dark colored granite slabs. The fountain at Dunas Square features 600 ground nozzles arranged in groups of 30 (3 rows of 10 nozzles). Each group of 30 nozzles is located beneath a stainless steel grille. Twenty such grilles are arranged in two rows of 10, in the middle of the main walkway through Dundas Square.
A water fountain or drinking fountain is designed to provide drinking water and has a basin arrangement with either continuously running water or a tap. The drinker bends down to the stream of water and swallows water directly from the stream. Modern indoor drinking fountains may incorporate filters to remove impurities from the water and chillers to reduce its temperature. In some regional dialects, water fountains are called bubblers. Water fountains are usually found in public places, like schools, rest areas, libraries, and grocery stores. Many jurisdictions require water fountains to be wheelchair accessible (by sticking out horizontally from the wall), and to include an additional unit of a lower height for children and short adults. The design that this replaced often had one spout atop a refrigeration unit.
In 1859, The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association was established to promote the provision of drinking water for people and animals in the United Kingdom and overseas. More recently, in 2010, the FindaFountain campaign was launched in the UK to encourage people to use drinking fountains instead of environmentally damaging bottled water. A map showing the location of UK drinking water fountains is published on the FindaFountain website.
How Fountains Work
From Roman times until the 20th century, fountains operated by gravity, requiring a source of water higher than the fountain itself to make the water flow. The greater the difference between the elevation of the source of water and the fountain, the higher the water would go upwards from the fountain.
In Roman cities, water for fountains came from lakes and rivers and springs in the hills, brought into city in acqueducts and then distributed to fountains through a system of lead pipes.
From the Middle Ages onwards, fountains in villages or towns were connected to springs, or to channels which brought water from lakes or rivers. In Provence, a typical village fountain consisted of a pipe or underground duct from a spring at a higher elevation than the fountain. The water from the spring flowed down to the fountain, then up a tube into a bulb-shaped stone vessel, like a large vase with a cover on top. The inside of the vase, called the bassin de répartition, was filled with water up to a level just above the mouths of the canons, or spouts, which slanted downwards. The water poured down through the canons, creating a siphon, so that the fountain ran continually.
In cities and towns, residents filled vessels or jars of water from the canons of the fountain or paid a water porter to bring the water to their home. Horses and domestic animals could drink the water in the basin below the fountain. The water not used often flowed into a separate series of basins, a lavoir, used for washing and rinsing clothes. After being used for washing, the same water then ran through a channel to the town's kitchen garden. In Provence, since clothes were washed with ashes, the water that flowed into the garden contained potassium, and was valuable as fertilizer.
The most famous fountains of the Renaissance, at the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, were located on a steep slope near a river; the builders ran a channel from the river to a large fountain at top of the garden, which then fed other fountains and basins on the levels below. The fountains of Rome, built from the Renaissance through the 18th century, took their water from rebuilt Roman acqueducts which brought water from lakes and rivers at a higher elevation than the fountains. Those fountains with a high source of water, such as the Triton Fountain, could shoot water 16 feet (4.9 m) in air. Fountains with a lower source, such as the Trevi Fountain, could only have water pour downwards. The architect of the Trevi Fountain placed it below street level to make the flow of water seem more dramatic.
The fountains of Versailles depended upon water from reservoirs just above the fountains. As King Louis XIV built more fountains, he was forced to construct an enormous complex of pumps, called the Machine de Marly, with fourteen water wheels and 220 pumps, to raise water 162 meters above the Seine River to the reservoirs to keep his fountains flowing. Even with the Machine de Marly, the fountains used so much water that they could not be all turned on at the same time. Fontainiers watched the progress of the King when he toured the gardens and turned on each fountain just before he arrived.
The architects of the fountains at Versailles designed specially-shaped nozzles, or tuyaux, to form the water into different shapes, such as fans, bouquests, and umbrellas.
In Germany, some courts and palace gardens where situated in flat areas, thus fountains depending on pumped pressurized water were developed at a fairly early point in history. The Great Fountain in Herrenhausen Gardens at Hanover was based on ideas of Gottfried Leibniz conceived in 1694 and was inaugurated in 1719 during the visit of George I. After som improvements, it reached a height of some 35 m in 1721 which made it the highest fountain in European courts. The fountains at the Nymphenburg Palace initially were fed by water pumped to water towers, but as from 1803 were operated by the water powered Nymphenburg Pumping Stations which are still working.
Beginning in the 19th century, fountains ceased to be used for drinking water and became purely ornamental. By the beginning of the 20th century, cities began using steam pumps and later electric pumps to send water to the city fountains. Later in the 20th century, urban fountains began to recycle their water through a closed recirculating system. An electric pump, often placed under the water, pushes the water through the pipes. The water must be regularly topped up to offset water lost to evaporation, and allowance must be made to handle overflow after heavy rain.
In modern fountains a water filter, typically a media filter, removes particles from the water—this filter requires its own pump to force water through it and plumbing to remove the water from the pool to the filter and then back to the pool. The water may need chlorination or anti-algal treatment, or may use biological methods to filter and clean water.
The pumps, filter, electrical switch box and plumbing controls are often housed in a "plant room". Low-voltage lighting, typically 12 volt direct current, is used to minimise electrical hazards. Lighting is often submerged and must be suitably designed. Floating fountains are also popular for ponds and lakes they consist of a float pump nozzle and water chamber.
Water quality and legal liability issues concerning fountains
There is a need for good water quality in contemporary fountains, regardless of their avowed intended use. Regardless of the fact that some fountains are designed and built not as bathing fountains, but are rather used simply as architectural decor, people will often drink from, bathe or wash their hands in any fountain. Additionally, fountain spray can contain legionella bacteria and has been linked to legionnaires' disease outbreaks. Therefore, minimum water quality standards are necessary, regardless of intended use. Guidelines have been developed for control of legionella in ornamental fountains.
In theory, a free-standing water feature should not have a bather load, and consequently, many builders would not choose to install filters or sanitation devices. In reality, however, people will interact with ornamental water fountains in the most surprising ways. In Disneyland, for example, people have been reported to change their babies' diapers and then wash their hands in the water fountain (thus adding unexpected bacteria and organics into the water).
In July 1997, an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis was connected to an ornamental fountain at the Minnesota Zoo, which did not have proper filtration and water treatment. Children played in fountains and swallowed water, and spurted the water out of their mouths to mimic the way nozzles in the fountain spurted the water. It was therefore necessary to put a fence around the fountain to keep people away.
In the United States fountain operators and owners are legally liable for failure to either fence-in fountains, or to properly filter, chlorinate or otherwise treat the water, if the fountains are not fenced in. If the water is unsafe, fences must be designed to keep people far enough away, so that they cannot touch the water, otherwise children get water on their hands, and put their fingers into their mouths, and end up getting sick, thus subjecting owners and operators to legal liability.