Beauty and Truth, Fountains at the New York Public Library, Flow Again

Behind the marble lion Fortitude is the fountain of Truth, shown as an old man. The inscription reads: “But above all things / Truth / beareth away / the victory.” Credit Hilary Swift/The New York Times

Behind the marble lion Fortitude is the fountain of Truth, shown as an old man. The inscription reads: “But above all things / Truth / beareth away / the victory.” Credit Hilary Swift/The New York Times

David W. Dunlap writes:

You all know Patience and Fortitude.

Now meet Beauty and Truth.

After three dry decades, water began flowing again this week in the grand fountains flanking the main entrance of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue.

Since then, passers-by have been drawn to the sound and sight of water at the fountains, adorned by allegorical figures of Beauty and Truth. The water pours forth from the mouth of a satyrs’ mask into a giant scallop shell and then cascades from basin to basin to basin to basin.

Manhattan has a terrific new Beaux-Arts selfie backdrop from 1911.

In truth, the fountains have been there all along. But they are easy to miss, given the colossal scale of the library, designed by Carrère & Hastings and known formally as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

They also have formidable competition for attention in the nearby lion sculptures, nicknamed Patience and Fortitude.

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