They will certainly be missed in the Nantes landscape. In a few days, the city’s legendary Wallace fountains will be dismantled, we learned this Thursday. The five works, visible for more than a century at Place de la Monnaie, Cour Cambronne, at the Jardin des Plantes (there are two of them) and at Parc de la Gaudinière, are in fact preparing to undergo a major renovation lasting several months. “Some elements are missing, others are damaged,” explains Emmanuel Divet, project manager at Voyage à Nantes. The fountains will be returned to the GHM foundry that produced them, where they will all have the same color: Nantes green. »
If these fountains, invented by the Englishman Richard Wallace, are getting a makeover, it is because a major project is being planned in the City of Dukes around this “Nantes object”. Because yes, the one who shaped them is none other than Charles-Auguste Lebourg, a sculptor from Nantes to whom we owe this mythical dome and support. Just like the four women (called caryatids) who adorn these works, today visible in around 250 places, mainly in France.
“After the Paris Commune of 1871, Richard Wallace, who lived there, had around forty fountains installed in Paris, wanting to provide better access to water for all, for reasons of public health,” continues Emmanuel Divet. A success which quickly had an echo at the national level. »
Four new fountains, reinterpreted, installed this summer
Nearly 150 years later, the city of Nantes wishes to “give new life” to these fountains by renovating them, but above all by welcoming others. On the occasion of the next edition of Voyage à Nantes, this summer, four new works will in fact be installed (Jardin de la Psalette, rue des Études, place Fernand Soil, and square Louis Bureau).
Reinterpretations commissioned from the artist Cédric Pedrosa which will resemble the originals, but which will feature the caryatids in different positions. On one, “two will let go of the dome to water a branch”. On another, they will actually climb on it to escape. “It’s the long history of feminism and human emancipation,” explains Emmanuel Divet.
Beyond artistic considerations, it is also for better access to drinking water that the metropolis is pushing the approach. The new and renovated fountains will all have a push button and a tap so that they are more accessible and more widely used.