Val d’Osne Fountain

Val d'Osne Fountain, Launceston, public art

Public Art : Val d’Osne fountain

Sculptor : Michel Joseph Napoleon Liènard (1810-1870) and Mathurin Moreau (1821-1912)

Description : The fountain was installed to commemorate the construction of Launceston’s reticulated water supply. It is a bronze copy of the original. The 7m high, 4 basin fountain features statues of Neptune, Galatea, Amphitrite and Asis on the lower tier and 4 sea nymphs holding hands on the upper tier. There are 43 water jets in total.

Date Unveiled : The Val d'Osne fountain was officially turned on in 1859.

Foundry : The fountain was produced by the Val d’Osne Foundry which was the biggest producing fine art foundry in France. The catalog number was 554T.

Location : The ornate fountain can be found in the centre of Prince's Square, Launceston, Tasmania.

Inscription :

Historical Engineering Marker

Launceston Water Supply

In 1857 Launceston's fledgling municipal council constructed its first reticulated water supply which still serves the city centre.
Director of Public Works W R Falconer designed the gravity scheme, consisting of a weir, water race and tunnel diverting flow from the St Patricks River into a dam on Distillery Creek.
Cast iron pipes delivered the water to brick reservoirs in the town.
This fountain was erected to celebrate the opening.
By 1860 the town had public drinking fountains, fire brigades and work on a sewerage scheme had begun.

The Institution of Engineers Australia
Launceston City Council & EskWater 2007

HisVal d'Osne fountain, Prince's Park, Tasmania, public arttory and background of the Val d'Osne Fountain : During early settlement Prince's Square was used as a clay quarry for making bricks. In the 1820's it became a public open space where celebrations, demonstrations and political gatherings took place.

During the construction of the Launceston waterworks it was suggested that a fountain be erected in the center of the square, which at the time was referred to as St John's Square . The council opted for an elaborate fountain from France despite objects over its cost.

The fountain was produced by the Val d’Osne Foundry, the biggest producing fine art foundry in France in the mid-nineteenth century. At one stage they had over 40,000 objects in their catalogues. This particular fountain design won a gold award at the 1855, Paris World Fair, which would explain why so many copies of it were erected around the world. The sculptures were created by Mathurin Moreau, who worked in the factory from 1849 to 1879 and in which he produced over 100 statues. Some say his work revolutionised the mass production of high quality models.

Thomas Wade was given the task of constructing the basin for the fountain.

The Square was officially opened and the Val d'Osne Fountain turned on, on the 9th of November 1859, which also happened to coincide with  H.R.H. Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales 18th birthday.

In 1863 the Square was officially named Prince's Square in honour of the Prince of Wales and his marriage.

Urban Myth : If you chat with some locals they are more than willing to tell you a tale about the Val d' Osne Fountain. Many (OK, some with tongue in cheek) believe the fountain was sent to Launceston by accident. When the order was placed there was a mix up and the small city of Launceston, Tasmania, received the more expensive, elaborate fountain instead of Launceston in Cornwall, England.  By the time the mistake was realised the fountain had already been erected.  Some say the council refused to pay the bill when the mistake was uncovered, others that it was logistically too expensive to ship it back, but most often, they just laugh at the thought that another city somewhere in the world got their cheap version. From all accounts this is just an old wives tale.

List of known Val d'Osne Fountains :

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Mendoza, Argentina
Launceston, Australia
Salvador de Bahia, Brazil
Quebec, Canada
Valparasio, Chile
Liverpool, England
Angers, France
Saint Quentin, France
Soulac sur mer, France
Troyes, France
Tacna, Peru
Lisbon, Portugal (2)                                                                                               
Valencia, Spain
Geneva, Switzerland
Boston, USA (known as The Brewer Fountain)

Prince's Park Trivia :

In 1834, Prince's Square was rumoured to have been the site of a public execution of two bushrangers.

During WWII trenches were dug in the Square for air raid shelters.

The Val d'Osne Fountain is probably amongst one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious
fountains still in operation in a public square.

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