End of Year in Brussels

Alphonse de Tombay - La Fillette à la Coquille

Alphonse de Tombay – La Fillette à la Coquille (1901) (1)

Between Christmas and the New Year I spent a few days in Brussels to see my family and settle some personal matter. In the remaining time I visited some interesting places, such as the Belgian Comic Strip Center or, for earthly pleasures, the Maison Antoine in Place Jourdan, reputed to serve the best Belgian fries in town—or even in the world if one believes the New York Times. I also went to see some statues of little girls.

Most people associate Brussels with the famous Manneken Pis, the 400-year-old statue of a little urinating boy, whose derived products fill tourist shops. Lesser known is his little sister Jeanneke Pis, a half-metre-high bronze statue located in Impasse de la Fidélité/Getrouwheidsgang (Fidelity Alley). It was sculpted by Denis-Adrien Debouvrie in 1985 and erected in 1987. It is usually locked behind red bars, so to photograph it I had to put the camera’s lens between two bars. I show first a picture taken without a flash:

Jeanneke Pis

Denis-Adrien Debouvrie – Jeanneke Pis (1985) (1)

Taking a photograph with a flash highlights the bronze colour:

Jeanneke Pis

Denis-Adrien Debouvrie – Jeanneke Pis (1985) (2)

Following the name of the street where the statue lies, the legend says that it symbolises fidelity, so people throw coins in the basin under the pedestal in order to prove their commitment to their loved one.

I went then to the Brussels Park in order to photograph the statue La Fillette à la Coquille (The Little Girl with the Shell) by Alphonse de Tombay. It was sculpted in 1898, then placed in 1901 on the top of a small column above a fountain designed to allow children to drink. Small bronze rings can still be seen near the top of the column, they held drinking cups. Now no water flows anymore from that fountain.

Alphonse de Tombay - La Fillette à la Coquille

Alphonse de Tombay – La Fillette à la Coquille (1901) (2)

Alphonse de Tombay - La Fillette à la Coquille

Alphonse de Tombay – La Fillette à la Coquille (1901) (3)

Alphonse de Tombay - La Fillette à la Coquille

Alphonse de Tombay – La Fillette à la Coquille (1901) (4)

Alphonse de Tombay - La Fillette à la Coquille

Alphonse de Tombay – La Fillette à la Coquille (1901) (5)

A beautiful photograph of that statue, taken in a sunnier time of the year, can be found on Wikimedia Commons. An alchemical interpretation (in French) of the park and of the statue can be found here.

I am willing to share my full set of photographs in large size (2000×2992) with interested readers.

5 thoughts on “End of Year in Brussels

  1. The girl peeing statue is so cute and humorous!
    If somebody put up a statue like that here in the United States, it would be condemned with labels such as “disgusting”, “shocking” and “not art but child pornography”.
    I admire European liberalism.

    • Since the Manneken Pis exists since 400 years and is part of the country’s cultural heritage, interpreting it as “sexual” would be considered as devious. Now it has been said that Jeanneke Pis was commissioned in order to achieve gender equality in this aspect of national culture. There is even Zinneke, the family’s urinating dog, erected in 1999.

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