The Oak Fountain
The Oak Fountain is the third in the chain of water displays in the Upper Gardens. It is sited on the Gardens' main axis, equidistant from the Neptune and Midway Fountains; its pool has the same form and size, and a stone surround of the same design as the latter.
The bottom of the pool is lined with light and dark squares of polished granite. In the centre rises a marble sculpture of Cupid on a tufa base shaped like a starfish with six arms, each having at its tip a bronze figure of a dolphin with curving jets of water spouting from its open mouth.
The fountain was built between 1733 and 1735 by the fountain-builder Sualem to designs of Blank and Davydov. The sculptor Rastrelli created for it a leaden group of tritons and dolphins under a cascading oak with branches and leaves made of gilt copper and tin plate, after which it was named the Oak Fountain. After 1746 the leaden oak and the triton sculptures were removed, and a new central motif was installed, consisting of a tufa star, six lead dolphins, and a horn of plenty. In 1857 the six dolphins were the fountain's only surviving decoration.
During a restoration of the fountain, in 1929, the sculpture Cupid Putting On a Tragic Mask, created by Giacomo de' Rossi in 1809, was set up in the centre.
The fountain was destroyed during the Nazi occupation of 1941-44, and had to be completely reconstructed. A surround was made of Reval stone, the bottom of the pool was faced with granite slabs, and dolphins were cast in bronze after surviving eighteenth-century specimens.
Like the Midway Fountain, the Oak Fountain sets off the richness of the design and ornamentation of the Neptune group. Compositionally, they form a link between the latter and the Fountains of the Square Pools near the Great Palace.