Located at the foot of La Grande Rue, also known as La Grande Gargouille, this rather gorgeous fountain is one of my favourite features of the old town. It is near the entrance to the Bibliothèque Municipale, which is housed in a building dedicated to Aristide Albert.
In the summer of 2016 I just happened to be leaving the library with my usual stash of Art books when I noticed that the sunlight was in exactly the right place to photograph the spouts of the fountain and the sparkling flow of water. Out came the camera and I managed to capture the scene quite successfully, including the tortoiseshell cat which was sitting at the first floor window of the blue building directly behind the fountain.
One can also see reflections of a bright yellow building, adjacent to the library, plus another slightly surprising reflection! I enjoyed building up the layers of cool blues and contrasting them with the warm yellows and ochres.
The fountain, the jets of water and the railings were really challenging in terms of getting the shapes and spaces correct. A number of times I nearly gave up and the painting took several months to complete. I am now reasonably pleased with the end result and the postcards printed of this image (by Francou) are rather charming.
Here’s a short history lesson about the fountain, which used to be situated on the other side of the road, before it was moved to its current spot in 1738. It is named in hommage to a certain Monsieur Persens, one of King Louis XIII’s engineers, who renovated all the public fountains and the water networks in Briançon circa 1634.
The basin of the fountain is sculpted from the famous local rose-tinted marble which is typical of the Briançon/ Guillestre area.
Postcard ‘La Fontaine de Persens’ by Susan Lomas : 1 €
Professional print on A3 card : 10 €