Paris - Luxembourg Quarter: Jardin Marco Polo - Fontaine des Quatre-Parties-du-Monde
At the southern end of the Garden Marco Polo, near the Place Camille-Jullian, sits the celebrated Fontaine des Quatre Parties du Monde (Fountain of the Four Parts of the World). Designed and supervised by Gabriel Davioud, it was built between 1867 and 1874, leveraging the collaborative efforts of several artists.
The centerpiece sculpture, Les Quatre Parties du monde soutenant la sphére céleste (Four Parts of the World Holding a Celestial Sphere) (half-size plaster model at Musée d'Orsay), was executed by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. Baron Haussmann commissioned Carpeaux, who chose the theme of the four parts of the world turning around the celestial sphere, which was carved with decorated signs of the zodiac by Perre Legrain. Not only are the four allegories dancing in a ring, but they are also revolving on the spot, rejecting the static pose usially found in this type of representation Europe scarcely touches the ground, Asia, with her long pigtail, is seen almost from the back, Africa is in a three-quarter view and America, wearing a feather headdress, is facing the spectator but her body is turned to the side. This taste for movement is one of the features of Carpeaux's art. Carpeaux originally wanted to give the figures a patina to match the skin color of the different races, but this was ruled out. The tangle of legs displeased the public of the time. Two of the busts exist as separate works. Carpeaux turned the Chinese woman into a man and reproduced the statue in several different materials. The figure of Africa gave rise to a bust that Carpeaux exhibited with the inscription Why be born a slave? This reference to the abolition of slavery is also visible in the statue: America is standing on the broken chain of slavery wrapped around Africa's ankle.
Emmanuel Frémiet was responsible for the base, adorned with eight dolphinsdolphins, tortoises and horses. The garlands were created by Pierre Legrain. And the sculpture itself, was foundried by Matifat.
Jardin Marco Polo, also known as le Jardin de l'Observatoire (the Garden of the Observatory), occupies the southern half of l'avenue de l'Observatoire. Along with Jardin Robert Cavelier de la Salle, the garden is one of two parks created in 1867 between the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Observatoire de Paris. Named after the great explorer, Marco Polo, is is laid with lawns and planted with four rows of chestnut trees, which are sharply trimmed in the classic French-style.