Triton Fountain, Queen Mary’s Gardens

1950, bronze, by William McMillan RA (1887-1977)

Here at last is a memorial to Sigismund Goetze who had given so much to the park during his lifetime, including the Jubilee Gates and many statues. The pool itself was funded by him in 1939 just before his death and his widow, a gifted pianist, commissioned the fountain in his memory. She started the Constance Fund to continue his provision of sculpture and fountains in parks across London, and directed the Fund until her death in 1951. The Diana fountain in Green Park is such an example and was moved and reguilded to form the centrepiece of a new entrance to the park, shortly before the London Olympics.

Triton was the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea. He lived at the bottom of the sea as half human, half fish. Riding on sea horses and other monsters he blew a conch shell, like his father, like a trumpet to calm or raise the waves as necessary and to frighten away any giants who thought it was the sound of a dark wild beast.

The sculptor, of great distinction, is probably best known for the Royal Air Force Memorial on Victoria Embankment. On the Mall, you can see his statue of King George VI and outside the Foundling Museum, that of Thomas Coram. McMillan was born in Aberdeen, studied at Gray’s Art School and the Royal College of Art from 1908 to 1912 and joined the Artists Rifles in World War I. In 1919 he was commissioned to design the artwork for WWI campaign medals. A senior Royal Academy member in 1962 he had been Master of the Royal Academy Sculpture School from 1929 to 1941.

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