The French artist François-Léon Sicard was chosen to design the fountain. Sicard was one of the foremost sculptors of his day but had never been to Sydney, so had to work with photographs and sketches of the proposed site. He chose a number of classical themes to celebrate the French-Australian liaison. Atop the fountain is Apollo giving life to nature, with the three side piers containing respectively Diana, Goddess of Hunting bringing harmony to the world, Pan watching over the fields (see photo below of his wonderful head) and the powerful figure of Theseus conquering the Minotaur, symbolising sacrifice for the common good (see photo below of all that rippling muscle).
The current conservation work being undertaken for the City of Sydney involves the careful cleaning of all the elements, the waxing of the bronze figures and the repointing of the granite base and surround. We are happy to report that the fountain is in good shape. The waxing helps to not only bring up the colour of the bronze, but more importantly to protect the surface from the corrosion that results from traffic pollution and salt in the sea air. However, in time the wax breaks down so these regular visits (every five years or so) ensure M Sicard’s work continues to delight both Sydneysiders and visitors alike.