Washington DC, A to Z: Neptune Fountain (Court of)

The Court of Neptune Fountain, by Roland Hinton Perry, is located at the front of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.  I don’t think I would have taken these pictures if the fountain wasn’t located at the entrance to a library. Without the water running, the sculpture looks gross in places and Neptune appears sad and lonely. But because the sculpture seems a bit risque  for the time period, I took pictures.  I found this quote by the artist:

 “I have tried to embody by Neptune and the Naiads [nymphs] the physical joy felt in masses of rushing water. Of course one loses a great deal of this effect when the fountain does not play. The powerful muscularity and strong movement of the groups seemed to me, when I modeled those figures, to represent the intense activity, the restlessness, and push of our peoples.” Roland Hinton Perry

Intense activity is not something I think of when I think of libraries. I’m not saying it’s not a beautiful fountain, just that it wasn’t the type of fountain I expected to see outside the Library of Congress.

Library of Congress Jefferson Bldg: Court of Neptune Fountain (ca. 1898)
Neptune, the Roman God of the Sea Sits on a Rock.
To His Side, a Triton Blows a Conch Shell to Summon the Water Deities.
Library of Congress Jefferson Bldg: Court of Neptune Fountain (ca. 1898)
Nereid (sea nymph) Riding a Seahorse

To see what the fountain looks like with water flowing, click here or watch this video.


The following should have been included under “J” but I didn’t know about it then. For a virtual tour of the room in the Library of Congress with very impressive stairways:

  • Click here to go to the Architects Virtual Capital – Thomas Jefferson Building.
  • Click on the tab “Arts & Architecture”
  • Click on the picture of the Great Hall to make it stop moving
  • Use your mouse to scroll around the room, including the ceiling. The first three pictures from the post Washington DC, A to Z: Jefferson Building were taken in this room.

6 thoughts on “Washington DC, A to Z: Neptune Fountain (Court of)

  1. If I saw those pictures without captions, I would think they were in Rome. I'm not too keen on that classical style myself. As for the intense activity – it's all in going on in the library users' brains! I'm a librarian, I should know. Although, mind you, when I think of some library users there's not always much sign of activity……

    Anabel at Anabel's Travel Blog


  2. They should have the fountain going all the time like in Europe. It is a great fountain even though Neptune looks like he is sitting on his throne and not the regal one:)


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