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If you walk in the vicinity of Palais-Royal, you may spot a monumental fountain at the corner of the rue Molière and the rue de Richelieu. This is the Fontaine Molière (or Monument à Molière), a fountain raised to the honour of the great French writer.

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Fontaine Molière – a bit of history

The present-day square Place Mireille is the location of Molière’s death on 21 February 1673. In fact, Molière is said to have died at ten o’clock in the evening at 40, rue de Richelieu.

In 1838, a house was demolished opposite the one where Molière had died. The plan was to build a fountain topped by a nymph statue in the space left vacant.

However, François-Joseph Regnier, a member of the Comédie-Française, took advantage of this happy coincidence to relaunch the project to raise a monument to the honour of Molière. He sent a letter to the prefect of the Seine to request that the allegorical figure of the future fountain be replaced by that of the statue of Molière, which would then be financed by a national subscription.

Finally, Régnier’s proposal was approved. The national subscription was a first for a commemorative monument dedicated to a civil figure.

Fontaine Molière in Paris © French Moments
The monumental Fontaine Molière in Paris © French Moments

Work on the monumental fountain ended in 1844. It is the work of several sculptors under the direction of the architect Louis Tullius Joachim Visconti and the contractor Antoine Vivenel. The two men also created the monumental fountain in Place Saint-Sulpice.


What does the monument look like?

The main bronze statue, enthroned under a portico with an imposing pediment, represents Molière seated. It is a creation of the sculptor Bernard-Gabriel Seurre (1795-1867) and was cast by Eck and Durand.

Fontaine Molière in Paris © French Moments
The monumental Fontaine Molière in Paris © French Moments
Fontaine Molière in Paris © French Moments
Fontaine Molière in Paris © French Moments
Fontaine Molière in Paris © French Moments
A closer look at the writer – Fontaine Molière in Paris © French Moments

Moreover, two female marble allegories, La Comédie sérieuse and La Comédie légère, flank the pedestal and are the work of Jean-Jacques Pradier (1792-1852). They each hold a scroll listing the works of the great playwright.

The two female allegories of the Paris fountain © French Moments
The two female marble allegories of the fountain: La Comédie sérieuse and La Comédie légère © French Moments

Pradier is also the author of the Genius of the Pediment.

The Genius of the fountain's Pediment © French Moments
The Genius of the fountain’s Pediment © French Moments

Finally, on the lower level, lion-headed masks spit water into a semi-circular basin.

The lion-headed masks on the lower level © French Moments
The lion-headed masks on the lower level © French Moments

Trivia!

A medal commemorating the inauguration of the Molière fountain was produced by the engraver François Augustin Caunois in 1844. The Carnavalet Museum has kept a copy of it.


Find out more!

 

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Fountain Moliere in Paris Pinterest © French Moments


 

About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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