NYC – Rockefeller Center: Channel Gardens – Fountainhead – Will
Image by wallyg
The Channel Gardens is lined with six pools, each with a large fountainhead sculptures, designed by Rene Paul Chambellan, at its eastern end.
The female figures are Nereids, mythological daughters of the benevolent sea god, Nereus, and his wife, Doris, the daughter of Oceanus. Sea nymphs, or mermaids, they were said to accompany Poseidon and aid sailors during perilous storms. The male figures are Tritons, mermen having the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish. The first Triton, the messenger God of the deep, was the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and Amphitrite, goddess of the sea. Over time, Triton’s name and image came to be associated with a class of merman-like creatures.
Chambellan’s Nereids and Tritons riding fish. From Fifth Avenue toward the lower rink, the first sculpture is Leadership (pictured here), represented by a muscucular Triton with his head raised and blowing a large conch shell. Next is Will (pictured here), a Nereid with one hand raised ready to strike, the other pushing on her vessel’s gill. Thought is a Nereid with a bowed head in hand. Imagination is a Nereid with one hand slicing the air as if trailblazing a new path. Energy is a Triton leaning forward agressively. Alertness is a Triton with arms wide open and his face turned.
Rene Paul Chambellan, an architectural modeler and sculptor, was born in 1893 in West Hoboken. He was one of the foremost practitioners of what was then called the French Modern Style and has subsequently been labeled Zig-Zag Moderne, or Art Deco. His sculpture adorns landmarks like the American Radiator Building, the Chicago Tribune Building, the New York Life Insurance Building, Carew Tower, the Chanin Building, Beekman Tower and the Daily News Building. His other pieces around Rockefeller Center include the decorative drain covers in the Channel Gardens, the Motifs from the Coats of Arms of the British Isles and Pageant of French History and most famously, Atlas.
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