Blog #3 Urban Architecture & Material Culture: Public Fountains (Stephanie Coles 113352066)

Trafalgar Square Fountains, London. (Accessed 03/09/15 from my own personal photo collection). The first fountains were constructed in in the 19th century (designed by Edward Lutyens). They were replaced by the two fountains seen in this image in 1939 as a memorial for John Rushworth Jellicoe and David Beatty who were admirals in the Royal Navy.

Figure.1 Trafalgar Square Fountains, London 2015.
(Accessed 03/09/15 from my own personal photo collection). The first fountains were constructed in in the 19th century (designed by Edwin Lutyens). They were replaced by the two fountains seen in this image in 1939 as a memorial for John Rushworth Jellicoe and David Beatty who were admirals in the Royal Navy.                                                                                                                                        

“‘Material culture’ has operated as a ‘litmus test’ to what is going on right now and what has gone before, spatially and temporally” (Tolia-Kelly, 2009). The public fountain is an example of this in the 19th century. The style of many fountains is based upon the dazzling and spectacular styles of Baroque which began in Rome and spread throughout Europe over time. The Baroque style of architecture expressed grandeur, exuberance, drama and awe, and the typical ‘modern’ concepts of beauty, control and power, and the connection to the magnificence of the Roman World emphasized this.

Trafalgar Square Fountains, London. (Accessed 03/09/15 from my own personal photo collection). The first fountains were constructed in in the 19th century (designed by Edward Lutyens). They were replaced by the two fountains seen in this image in 1939 as a memorial for John Rushworth Jellicoe and David Beatty who were admirals in the Royal Navy.

Figure.2 Trafalgar Square Fountains, London 2015.
(Accessed 03/09/15 from my own personal photo collection).
The first fountains were constructed in in the 19th century (designed by Edwin Lutyens). They were replaced by the two fountains seen in this image in 1939 as a memorial for John Rushworth Jellicoe and David Beatty who were admirals in the Royal Navy.

In the 19th century city public parks became a popular characteristic feature of modernity all over Europe, and with some of these parks came the public fountain. Fountains were constructed to be the center-piece of many gardens and public parks, to draw the eye of visitors and to create an appropriate space where one can sit with friends and chat or “accept their beauty with a wistful sigh, toss a coin, take a photo, and walk away” (Rinne, 2010). For example, King Louis XIV built fountains as the central pieces in the Garden a la Francaise  at the Palace of Versailles, depicting gods and goddess’s from Greek mythology as a way of symbolising his power as a ruler and  expressing man’s control over nature (which is another concept of ‘modernity’). From this example a class difference is also visible, as the fountain would be turned on to spray over the French peasants.

The George V memorial fountain, Windsor. (Accessed 05/09/15 from my own personal photo collection). This fountain was also designed by Edwin Lutyens, and was unveiled in 1937.

Figure.3 The George V memorial fountain, Windsor 2015. (Accessed 05/09/15 from my own personal photo collection). This fountain was also designed by Edwin Lutyens, and was unveiled in 1937.

Public fountains were not only constructed to create central beautiful spaces for the elite to socialize, they also had another purpose which was to memorialize someone or something. In figure.2, figure.3 and figure.4 each of these fountains were constructed to memorialize important figures, in these cases John Rushworth Jellicoe and David Beatty and Sergeant Walter Berwick. By using a fountain as a memorial symbol it also gave it an air of importance and would be respected by anyone, wealthy or peasant.

Berwick Fountain, Cork City. (Accessed 10/11/15 from my own personal photo collection). This public fountain was built in 1860 and named after Sergeant Walter Berwick and designed by Sir John Benson.

Figure.4 Berwick Fountain, Cork City 2015. (Accessed 10/11/15 from my own personal photo collection). This public fountain was built in 1860 and named after Sergeant Walter Berwick and designed by Sir John Benson.

REFERENCES

  • Rinne, K.W. (2010). The Waters of Rome: Aqueducts, Fountains and the Birth of the Baroque City. Yale University Press.
  • Tolia-Kelly, D.P. (2009). Material Culture. Elsevier Ltd.
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