John Baptist Fountain

Related to City Art
Installed 1888
A circular pool with a sandstone rim. A sandstone sculpture of a large fish resting head first on a piece of coral and balancing a clamshell bowl on its tail is in the centre of the pool.
People eat lunch while sitting on the rim and in front of a fountain with a sandstone fish sculpture in its centre. The fountain is on a lawn in a park.
A black-and-white historic photograph of people sitting and standing around and in the John Baptist fountain.

A locally carved ode to the fashionable garden ornaments of the 19th century.

Artist: Unknown
“Fountains were a popular feature of many gardens in the mid-1800s, and they were usually imported. While this fountain draws from traditional European design, what makes it so significant is that it was created and carved locally using local sandstone.”

– Colleen Morris, curator of The Lost Gardens of Sydney, Museum of Sydney, 2008

Artwork description

The John Baptist Fountain was installed by the 1860s in the Baptist Gardens in Redfern. In 1888, the fountain was moved to Hyde Park north where it stands today. This fountain is of historic significance as the oldest extant locally made ornamental fountain in NSW and one of the oldest in Australia.

The fountain has a sandstone centrepiece of coral surmounted by 3 carp which support a clamshell basin on their tails. The centrepiece is situated in a large, plain ground basin with stone sides.

It demonstrates colonial ambitions to emulate the most fashionable garden ornaments of the early-mid 19th century. The local execution in sandstone displays the technical abilities of colonial craftspeople.

Get arts and culture updates from City of Sydney News.