Lions are a ubiquitous human symbol. But they can symbolize something deeper than mere physical strength. The act of carving a lion into a fountain is to place the gentleness of a stream of water under the lion’s protection: it is an expression of power as defending beauty. In this, the power itself becomes beautiful and delicate, as seen in this classic stone wall fountain.
Here, the lion’s face is fierce and aggressive, but its action—to flow water from its mouth—is peaceful and serene. There is a certain security that comes from such a powerful entity performing gentleness: it is a power for others to share. It is perfect for guests, to make them feel impressed, but also welcome at the same time.
The lion looks directly forward at you: it can be as mesmerizing as the water of the wall fountain itself as it endlessly cycles through its path. But it is also framed by a swirling, almost dainty floral arrangement, carved into the stone of the fountain as if reigning the lion in, keeping him in check even as he begins to look intimidating. This theme of nurturing and domination working in tandem to create beauty can be seen in many marble fountain designs, such as this one.
We see this here, too, in this outdoor marble fountain: the strength of lions serving to support a sensitive grace of the humans above them. The lions face outward, like guards, while the humans up top hold aloft a basin of their own. It shows the importance of both femininity and masculinity working together to create something harmonious like a garden fountain. When the fountain is turned on, the subtle curtain of water cascading down past the women will feel otherworldly, like a gentle spring shower in a world where everything is right.
With the lion imagery, the floral patterns on the fountain’s marble surface, and of course the running water, this outdoor fountain represents the strength and aesthetic of the wild world even as it combines itself with the human engineering needed to make such a thing as a fountain run, represented by the woman standing above the lions: humanity coexisting with nature.
In this three-tiered stone fountain, we see an animal which combines these two concepts unlike any other: the horse. As such, they are in the middle of the three tiers, both supporting and supported, while the lion heads peer out beneath them like sentinels, as if their bodies are the fountain itself. Horses are ideal metaphors of water, in they fluid way they move and their unstoppable power as well as their practical uses all across human designs. They almost feel like the perfect midpoint between the aggressive lion and the nurturing beings the lions loom defensively over.
By setting the natural element of water against the backdrop of intricately crafted human stonemasonry, these stone and marble fountains connect people and nature, which is why they’re perfect for gardens and other outdoor spots, and which is why they work so well to calm the senses and invigorate the spirit.