Bartholdi Fountain in Lyon

Bartholdi Fountain in Lyon
Bartholdi Fountain in Lyon

This large sculptural fountain is now located in one of the main squares of Lyon, the Place des Terreaux, precisely where there are other two great monuments of Lyon, its Museum of Fine Arts and the City Hall building. However, this work was not conceived for this place. But for another of the great French cities, for Bordeaux.


And the fact is that the history of this monument is linked to one of the most famous sculptures in the world. Neither more nor less than the Statue of Liberty, the great symbol of New York. To begin with because its creator was the same artist: the Frenchman Frederic Bartholdi. Although there are a few years difference between the conception of one work and another.

Bartholdi in 1857 he devised this font for a public competition organized by the city of Bordeaux. He was a totally unknown young man at the time, but his design based on the famoussculptured fountain of Apolloon the Grand Canal in the gardens of Versailles was the winning project.

But it still didn't materialize, and that project was forgotten for several decades. But some thirty years later, after the success of the Statue of Liberty, the Bordeaux city council called on Bartholdi to restart the project. It was then that the sculpture was finished and it was melted down, but the author took it before the Universal Exhibition ofParis in 1889. A contest for which the Eiffel Tower was built. And in fact Gustave Eiffel himself had collaborated in the structure of the Statue of Liberty and also in this new Bartholdi fountain.

The fact is that being exposed there, it is said that the mayor of Lyon fell in love with the work, and although the final price did not completely satisfy Bartholdi, he ended up selling it to that council and decided to adapt it to his installation in the Terreaux square, where it was inaugurated in 1892. However, today it is displaced from that initial location due to urban reforms.

The work is a representation of France in a woman named Marianne who drives four horses in a chariot, which in turn are the representation of the country's four great rivers: the Garonne, the Seine, the Loire and the Rhône, which bathes Lyon precisely.

It is a source of enormous weight, both for its iron structure and for its lead surface. All of it is made of thin lead sheets, which guarantees a better duration, but periodic care is also necessary. In fact, it recently underwent a deep cleaning and restoration.

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