The Water Sideboard Fountain: a true masterpiece
Nestled in the Grand Trianon’s gardens, the Water Sideboard Fountain is an Italian-inspired fountain monument built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1702, before being altered on Louis XIV’s orders.
Despite a very frontal feel, this majestic monument measures 12 metres deep from the front of the basin to the back of the stonework. From the moment it was first unveiled, a series of water features cascaded down into the basin, with each different angle creating a wash of water that would then spill down into the row of white marble bowls below. Angled jets sprayed out from the four masks used to adorn the lower section and embody the winds (Boreas, Eurus, Auster, Zephyrus), with the glistening water enhancing the different nuances of marble.
Major restoration works
Over the course of its 320-year lifetime, the Water Sideboard Fountain had gradually and significantly deteriorated since its one and only restoration back in 1892. The fountain bore a number of alterations on the marble, the lead-sculpted figures, and the functionality of the water effects.
The restoration works that are now drawing to a close therefore tackled the monument’s entire structure, from the lead and marble decorative elements to repairing the fountain construction itself and sealing. The campaign called on a host of traditional artisanal skills offered up by stonemasons, marble-workers, coppersmiths and founders, gilders and expert fountain craftsmen. The operations were overseen by Jacques Moulin, Head Architect of Historical Monuments.
This major heritage campaign has returned the fountain to its original splendour, just as the Sun King himself had once desired.
A reintroduction to the Trianon gardens
The Water Sideboard Fountain’s new lease of life marks a milestone in the Palace of Versailles teams’ commitment to restoring and renovating the Trianon’s gardens, a campaign that has been underway for many years now. The hydraulic system naturally plays a central role in this approach: from as far back as its early days under Louis XIV, the Trianon estate has always been known as much for its water features as its beautiful flowers.
In 2020, the Trianon’s hydraulic loop was therefore reinstated, allowing all the Trianon’s fountains to flow simultaneously, more frequently and in a closed-loop system. Alongside this, a number of restoration works were conducted across the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon, and Queen’s Hamlet pools and basins. The result are grounds that feel as aligned as possible with the authentic 18th-century aesthetic.
The Fondation Bru sponsored restoration works on the Water Sideboard Fountain and rebuilding work for the Trianon gardens’ hydraulic loop, as well as the marble parterres that were set up as a pop-up feature by the Grand Trianon gardeners for Summer 2023.