Projet de tour en fonte pour le puits artésien de Passy

Adolphe Alphand
Projet de tour en fonte pour le puits artésien de Passy
en 1857
aquarelle et rehauts de gouache blanche
H. 98,8 ; L. 67,8 cm.
Achat, 1988
© Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Adolphe Alphand (1817 - 1891)
Artwork not currently exhibited in the museum

The lakes in the Bois de Boulogne are fed by artesian wells in the nearby arrondissements. The well in Lamartine square, called the Passy well, was dug in 1855, and a standpipe was to be built over it to catch the gushing water. Two Paris city engineers, Alphonse Alphand and Jean Darcel, designed a cast iron tower on the model of those then in the Place de Breteuil. An architect and draughtsman named Emile Reiber executed the project in 1857.
The standpipe, which was finally considered unnecessary, was meant to absorb shocks in the pipes and keep the water pressure steady. It consisted of a central tube and downpipes, which had to be easily accessible to carry out maintenance and prevent accidents. An elegant spiral staircase was therefore planned, made of cast and wrought iron, topped by a lantern with a slightly bulbous dome. The dome was designed to roof and protect the structure. The drawing suggests that the lantern was to be glassed in and the slight overhang of the ridgepoles gives the roof a Japanese look, which Reiber particularly liked. The tower is standing on a three-tiered base; the water spurts from rocks piled above the foundation decorated with bosses and rockwork, like a classical nymphaeum. It also flows from circular openings similar to those at Ledoux's Saltworks at Arc et Senans (Doubs). The entire tower is set in a picturesque landscape with a hint of ruins in the background. The staircases that flank the base of the monument lead into a dense forest. The magnificent execution of the drawing makes us forget that it was originally a technical project.