A European Fountain in the Middle of Pittsburgh: Edmond Amateis’ Mellon Park Masterpiece

(Last Updated On January 31, 2019)

It’s not literally a European fountain, but there is something distinctly European in the Art Deco fountain Edmond Amateis constructed for Mellon Park, a small park in the Shadyside neighborhood of downtown Pittsburgh. The park was once the grounds of Richard Beatty Mellon‘s estate. Mellon was a wealthy industrialist and banker, whose 65-room mansion was the largest residence in Pittsburgh at the time of its construction.The house was apparently torn down in 1941 (a mere thirty years after its construction), though there seems to be no ready explanation as to why.

Artist Unknown – R. B. Mellon Residence (postcard)

The land was later appropriated by the city and became Mellon Park, now book-ended by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Phipps Garden Center. The fountain, which sits at the western end of the Walled Garden, was built in 1927, six years before Mellon passed away. One of the walls in the Walled Garden (likely the one opposite the fountain) is all that remains of what once was Mellon’s grand home.

Google Maps – Mellon Park (1)

Google Maps – Mellon Park (2)

Google Maps – Mellon Park (3)

As for the fountain, there’s a good reason why it emanates a European sensibility: Amateis’s father, Louis Amateis, was a well-respected sculptor in his own right who had immigrated to America from Italy. Edmond himself was born in Rome, though well after Louis had come to America (so likely during a visit with family). He would later study sculpting at the Académie Julian in Paris and at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York City, the latter school specializing in the style of the French École des Beaux-Arts.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (1)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (2)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (3)

As one can see from the image below, the fountain is in need of some minor repairs.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (4)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (5)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (6)

I count a total of seven children around the fountain, with only two of them being boys and the remaining five being girls, an unusual choice. I suspect this was because the artist did not want to portray male genitalia (you can see that both boys have their midsections blocked), and there were not many options he could take without repeating himself. Girls did not present the same problem for the sculptor. Whatever the motivation, it’s a delightful choice.

One can see nearly the entirety of the Walled Garden in this next shot.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (7)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (8)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (9)

The eighth side of the octagonal fountain simply has a squirrel instead of a child.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (10)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (11)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (12)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (13)

This is not part of the Mellon Park fountain, but it’s a nice little piece using the same Art Deco style, and I decided to toss it in here at the end as a bonus.

Edmond Amateis – A Putto Riding a Dolphin

This entry was posted in Amateis, Edmond, Art Deco, Sculpture and tagged by Pip Starr. Bookmark the permalink.

About Pip Starr

I am the founder and original editor-in-chief of Pigtails in Paint, running it initially by myself for the first few years. Then Ron joined the party, and I eventually ceded overall control of Pigtails to him, taking a back seat to focus on other things. Best decision I've ever made.

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