The Fontaine des Quatre-Saisons (English: Fountain of the four seasons) is a monumental 18th-century public fountain, at 57-59 rue de Grenelle in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France. It was executed by Edme Bouchardon, royal sculptor of King Louis XV (ruled 1715-1774), and opened in 1745. The fountain is huge and richly decorated, but it had only two water spouts, and its grand scale on the narrow street, together with the lack of water, irritated Voltaire and other figures of the French Enlightenment. The fountain is the best surviving example in Paris of the public architecture of the reign of Louis XV.
The Fontaine des Quatre-Saisons was the largest and most ornate of the thirty fountains built in Paris in the 18th century to provide drinking water to the city's residents.Between 1715 and 1724, the Conseil d'Etat of King Louis XV began discussing the idea of a new fountain in the Faubourg Saint-Germain area, which was rapidly growing. They first discussed placing it at the corner of rue de Bac and the rue de l'Universite, then Rue Saint-Dominique, and finally decided on it current site on rue de Grenelle, on a parcel of land owned by the convent of Récollettes.
The project was approved by the Prevot des Marchands, the leader of the city's businessmen, Michel-Étienne Turgot, who shared authority for all fountains and water projects in Paris, and was given to the Royal sculptor, Edme Bouchardon, in 1739, for completion. Bouchardon worked seven years on the project. He displayed the plaster models for the central group of sculptures at the Salon du Louvre in 1740, and the bas-reliefs in 1741. The fountain was not completely finished until 1745.
The decorative figures of the fountain were described by Bouchardon himself in his proposal:The principal figure occupying the center represents the City of Paris, in the form of a woman seated on a throne placed on a circular base. She is richly dressed, and her attitude is inspired by her majesty. She holds the prow of a vessel in one hand, on which she is resting; her other arm is back, resting on her side, and on her head she wears a crown.