Historic Fontaine Saint-Michel ©

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Artist's Description

The Fontaine Saint-Michel is a monumental fountain located in Place Saint-Michel in the 5th arrondissement in Paris. It was constructed in 1858–1860 during the French Second Empire by the architect Gabriel Davioud. It was part of the great project for the reconstruction of Paris overseen by Baron Haussmann during the French Second Empire.

Davioud’s original project was for a fountain dedicated to peace, located in the center of the square. The prefect authorities rejected this idea and asked him instead to build a fountain to hide the end wall of the building at the corner of boulevard Saint-Michel and Saint-André des Arts. This forced Davioud to adapt his plan to the proportions of that building.

The design in 1856 provided the architectural structure of the fountain; a facade divided into four horizontal levels with four Corinthian columns framing the central niche. Davioud created a series of shallow bowed basins through which the water issuing from the rock under the supine body of Saint Michael’s adversary spills. The water ends in a basin sunk into street level, with a curving front edge that softens the line of the monument’s architectural base.

In the 1856 plan, Davioud placed a feminine statue of Peace into the central niche. The 1858 plan called for replacing Peace with a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte, which provoked furious opposition from the opponents of Louis-Napoleon. So later in 1858 Davioud proposed that the central figure be the Archangel Michael wrestling with the devil. Construction began in June 1858, and the statue was inaugurated on August 15, 1860.

In September 1870, after the capture of Emperor Louis Napoleon by the Germans during the French-German War and his abdication, the fountain was threatened by a mob. In September of that year, Davioud wrote an urgent letter to the Director of the Municipal Service of Promenades and Plantations telling him that a crowd of unarmed workers have come to the fountain to attack it and deface the eagles and inscriptions on the upper part. The fountain, along with other symbols of Louis Napoleon, were apparently attacked and damaged by mobs during the 1871 uprising and suppression of the Paris Commune. In 1872, Davioud was authorized by the Prefecture to make urgent repairs to the fountain. It was restored again in 1893.

The fountain was different from most other Paris fountains because it used different colors of stone; columns of red and green marble; blue and yellow stone; and bronze statues, various sculptures and reliefs.

All images are taken with a Canon 5D III (full frame) and a Canon 7D II (crop frame) using a variety of Canon L-Series lenses, and Tamron and Sigma pro-line lenses; processed in RAW with ACR, PSC, Photomatix, and a variety of other imaging software.

All images are Copyright © 2016 Hany G. Jadaa; C.Chem. M.Sc. Eng.; and Copyright © 2016 Prince John Photography (the Artist). The material contained herein may not be reproduced, copied, edited, published, transmitted or downloaded in any way, shape or form. All rights are reserved. Copying, altering, displaying or redistribution of any of these images without written permission from the Artist is strictly prohibited and will be prosecuted under US, Canadian, European, and Australian Copyright laws.

Image is available for purchase at higher resolution and no copyright stamps upon request. Please contact the artist directly at pjphotography@uniserve.com

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