the pleasure of release

Seventeenth-century ingenuity in the manipulation of water led, perhaps inevitably, to some dubious conceits. Grotesque masks spewing water from nostrils or mouth and the shameless sphinx shown here are all at the Villa d’Este.


But besides grotesque masks spewing water, tritons and spitting lions which are common among Roman fountains is the most famous of all: the Manneken-Pis of Brussels which stands near the city hall.

Villa d’Este. The Hundred Fountains. Image:

And how about Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne . In this allegorical tale, Dr. Heidegger experiments on four of his friends through offering them water from a fountain of youth which of course confers on them the ability to return to youth.  The four, who have squandered most of their lives, solemnly vow never to repeat the mistakes of their wasteful youth and attain a state of perfection  they have always imagined. Inevitably,  as soon as they attain youth a second time,  the four fall back to the old routine. Such was the use of water here, as symbol of perfection:  although individuals can believe in and desire  perfection, it is an impossibility and any quest for it is destined to be blemished with impurity.

—The 61 cm tall bronze statue on the corner of Rue de l’Etuve and Rue des Grands Carmes was made in 1619 by Brussels sculptor Hieronimus Duquesnoy. The figure has been repeatedly stolen; the current statue is a copy from 1965. The original is kept at the Maison du Roi/Broodhuis on the Grand Place.
There are several legends behind this statue, but the most famous is the one about Duke Godfrey III of Leuven. In 1142, the troops of this two-year-old lord were battling against the troops of the Berthouts, the lords of Grimbergen, in Ransbeke (now Neder-over-Heembeek). The troops put the infant lord in a basket and hung the basket in a tree to encourage them. From there, the boy urinated on the troops of the Berthouts, who eventually lost the battle.—Wiki

Beside these salivating, lactating, and micturating specimens that can be found in the fountain designer’s art, the Balinese maidens below show an admirable Oriental restraint.

—As for the Bathing Waters supplied by Maiden Statues well, apparently it is either Holy Water from the earth or is it a Fountain of Youth?—Read More:


( Telegraph) :Brussels’ world famous Manneken Pis statue is dressed as an African farmer and ‘urinates’ milk. The stunt was organised by Veterinary without Borders to draw attention to the fact that milk is a major source of nutrition in Africa. The NGO hopes to improve the living conditions of African farmers and their livestock….

Read More:


The urinating toddler has been poised above his basin at the corner of the rue d’Etuve and the rue du Chene, a few minutes’ walk from the Grand Place, since 1618. The Friends of Manneken Pis change his costume two or three times a week – he has hundreds of different outfits in his wardrobe.Read More:

…Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink….( John Keats)

—Fontana della Barcaccia in the Piazza di Spagna. This fountain was believed to be the source of poet John Keats epitaph; ” Here lies one whose name was writ in water” —Read More:

…”You’re mad.”

“Insults now, is it?”

“Do you realize how old we are, Keats? Why won’t you see reason? I am two hundred and ten today. I have watched my entire family die. Ever since you created that damn water -”

“Ah, the Fountain of Youth. Not my most graceful or original creation, but it works.”…Read More:

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