The Bartholdi Fountain

By USCapitol - Bartholdi Fountain, Public Domain, Link

It was the same sculptor of the Statue of Liberty who made the Bartholdi Fountain which is situated in a part close to the US Botanic Garden. Its overall design is based on various forms from the Classical and Renaissance period of architecture and also served as the sophisticated expression of the Gilded Age.

The design of the Bartholdi Fountain is composed primarily of three sections. It has a base in the shape of a triangle with shells and turtles rising up to the level of the pedestal. Between the feet of the three similarly looking nymphs are some scattered fish and corals. The nymphs project an action that they were trying to hold up the basin which gains support from the column at the center. All the nymphs wear headdresses composed of leaves with some drapery cling on their bodies just like the people during classical Greece period.

The fountain also has three young tritons that hold seaweed and has a mural crown. Water comes out from the triton’s crowns and splashes all over the upper basin while water jets shoot out from the mouth of the turtles.

The Bartholdi Fountain was created during the International Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in year 1876. The man behind it was Frederic Auguste Batholdi who at that time was also currently working on his design for the Statue of Liberty. The fountain then was painted in bronze and situated right at the center near the gateway of the Exhibition venue.

It was when the Exhibition was nearing to a close when the government of United States bought the fountain at a cost of $6,000. This move was prompted by the popular landscape artist Frederick Law Olmstead. It was then relocated to Washington DC after a year and what places on the former grounds for the Botanic Garden.

During its creation, the fountain showed a good combination of casting iron technologies and gas lighting to symbolize Water and Light. The creator saw this as perfect to represent a modern city and he desired that a lot of other cities worldwide would give the concept of castings a try. As a result, it was only Reims, France which took the ideas by year 1885.

With the use of the gas lamps, the fountain became a very famous spot since it became a bright monument in Washington City. It shines brightly at night and all the lights which surround the basin part were added on in 1886 with round glass globes replacing the gas fixtures. This only happened when the Bartholdi fountain was finally fit for electrical lighting by year 1915.

Its relocation to the Botanic Garden happened in 1927. It was in 1932 when it was restored to its location at present; in a park which was renamed after the fountain’s maker in 1985. It was once again restored in 1986 and all the rusted parts of the fountain were opt for replacement. The basins were also repaired and its paint was renewed in 1996.