The World’s Fair of 1851

First of all the World's Fairs, the one held in London in 1851 amazed the public both by its exceptional building, the Crystal Palace, and by the multitude of creations displayed there. England, then master of the world, kept the greater part of the exhibition in order to display the wealth of its colonies.

Divided into four sections, the space of 8 hectares was then subdivided into national pavilions. Concerning the arts, the Exhibition of 1851 thus cohabited the oriental carpets of Tunis and the porcelains of Sèvres of France, a stuffed elephant from India and many neo-Gothic creations. Aiming no less than peace between all nations, guaranteed by the free movement of goods and the understanding of all civilizations, the spirit of this major event is a perfect illustration of the nineteenth century faith in industrial progress.

The event was beneficial to France, which was able to highlight the quality of its decorative arts. The toilette of the Duchess of Parme, exhibited by Froment-Meurice, and the reduction of Lorenzo Ghiberti's doors of paradise by the Barbedienne Foundry made a great impression, so that the next World's Fair took place in Paris in 1855.

Mathurin Moreau, sculptor

A famous sculptor, Mathurin Moreau is particularly known for his statues made for the Val d'Osne Foundry , which today remain important public monuments. From their first joint exhibition at the World's Fair of 1855, they won the Gold Medal for the Fountain of Tourny, which today stands on the forecourt of the Quebec Parliament.

He thus becomes a major personality in the decorative arts, and also provides sculpted figures for the goldsmith Christofle. Author of numerous statues of cast iron and bronze, such as Oceania which adorns the forecourt of the Orsay Museum, Mathurin Moreau also left some beautiful marble statues, and many decorative statuettes for the Art Market.

Rewarded in 1855, he regularly won awards at the Annual Salon and at World's Fairs, receiving in 1897 the Medal of Honor of the Salon. Mathurin Moreau continued to sculpt in the early 20th century, and also devoted himself to his duties as mayor of the 19th arrondissement of Paris until his death in 1912.

Exceptional set of Val d’Osne cast iron statues forming fountain coming from the Chateau du Pian near Bordeaux

Cast iron. After a model by Mathurin Moreau.

The couple of Acis and Galatea was presented at the World’s Fair of 1855 by Mathurin Moreau
on a fountain realized in collaboration with Michel Joseph Napoléon Liénard.

Dimensions of the original fountain : Height : 370 cm (145'' 11/16) ; Length : 1095 cm (431'') ; Width : 627 cm (246'' 7/8).

Signature on bases : « Val d'Osne Paris ».

Circa 1870 - 1880.








This fountain of exceptional quality includes a set of iron cast sculptures realized in the late 19th by the famous Val d'Osne foundry. Designed by the great sculptor Mathurin Moreau in 1854, the group of the two large back to back statues represents Acis and Galatea and is illustrated in the album nr. 2 of the Val d'Osne foundry under the numbers 272 and 273.


Fountain of Acis and Galatea designed by Mathurin Moreau for the Val d’Osne foundry, album nr. 2, models 272 and 273.


The story of Acis and Galatea, narrated by Ovid, is here cleverly chosen by Mathurin Moreau as the subject of a fountain because Galatea, a beautiful nymph desired by the Cyclops Polyphemus, transforms her beloved Acis into a river so that he rejoins the sea and does not totally die of the wounds inflicted on him by the Cyclops. This is why Galatea designates with her gesture the water that flows from the lion's head.
This one, as well as the two sirens, are also present in the album n° 2 of the Val d'Osne, while the vases appear in the 1888 album.
The sirens were designed by Provin Serres, a sculptor and disciple of Mathurin Moreau.






Coming from the Chateau du Pian, in Bouliac near Bordeaux (South of France), this fountain could be installed at the same time as the architecture of the house was completely transformed in 1873. The feudal residence had indeed been destroyed, and a Bordeaux wine merchant, Henri Deffès, bought it in 1866 and then entrusted the works of renovation to an architect of the public monuments, Victor Pierre Mialhe. The architect designed the elegant Chateau du Pian in the style of the second half of the 19th century, a period of great influence for the Val d'Osne foundry. Henri Deffès lived in Bordeaux when the city triumphed over the arrival of spring water with the fountain of Mathurin Moreau in 1857 ; We can therefore attribute to him the commission of this work intended to illustrate the extreme refinement of the domain.
The property belonged at the latest in 1897 to a rich farmer, Ferdinand Petit, owner of several vineyards and worldly friend of the President of the American Chamber of Commerce, who came to the Chateau in 1918.

The Chateau du Pian in Bouliac near Bordeaux.


Original settng of the Fountain at the Chateau du Pian before 1993.


The couple of Acis and Galatea was presented at the World's Fair of 1855, for a fountain designed in collaboration with Michel Liénard where this group was leaned in cross with another couple, Neptune and Amphitrite. This model of a monumental fountain made a strong impression on the World's Fair jury, which awarded it a gold medal, and several copies immediately found purchasers as public monuments. In 1857, the city of Bordeaux inaugurated this fountain celebrating the arrival of fresh water in the city center. This one, called "Fontaine de Tourny" now takes place in Quebec City, Canada.


« Fontaine de Tourny » installed on the Parliament Place in Quebec. Originating from Bordeaux.


The viceroy of Egypt Said Pasha also acquires it for Cairo during the World's Fair of 1855, while Tasmania installs a similar one in his Park of the Prince. In 1863, the same is installed in Geneva in the English Garden, then another copy is bought in 1867 for Boston. Only twenty of these fountains exist all over the world.

At the Chateau du Pian, the sculptures were rearranged into a new composition, lighter and more adapted to an exceptional private residence, in order to create a superb fountain taking place in the park of the chateau.

Signature of the Val d'Osne foundry on the cast iron sculptures.


All the cast iron statues are shown in our showroom in Saint-Ouen, on appointment. You can call us : +33 (0)6 60 62 61 90


Cast iron statues only are available. A precise schema of the stone elements was made and a quotation is available for the realization of all the stone elements, which can be carved in our workshops.

Paonazzo marble

Used since Antiquity for the most solemn and sumptuous monuments, such as the Mosaula of Hadrian, or later the Pasteur Institute in 1887, the Paonazzo marble is extracted in Italy in the quarries of Carrara and Calacatta.

Of a white or cream background, it is distinguished by lightning-like veins, lined with yellow and purple.

Often selected by the World's Fairs attendants to compete in sumptuousness, it is in this marble that Ruhlmann realizes the Art Deco bathroom of his famous Pavilion of the Collector, at the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts of 1925.

Discover our selection of fireplaces in Paonazzo marble: