The Place des Jacobins is a square located in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon. It was created in 1556 and a fountain was added in 1856. The square belongs to the zone classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. According to Jean Pelletier, this square is one of the most famous in Lyon, because of its location in the center of the 2nd arrondissement and its heavy traffic, as 12 streets lead here.
The square, particularly its architecture and its features, has changed its appearance many times throughout years. A fountain was erected in 1856 by Louis Danton, a wealthy upholsterer, who bequeathed his fortune for a work designed by Lienard and melted by Barbezat.
In 1866, when the rue Impériale (now rue Édouard-Herriot) was opened, this rendered obsolete the fountain which was removed. A new fountain, designed by Desjardins, was inaugurated in 1868 to commemorate Claude-Marius Vaïsse but this politician was not liked and the fountain diameter (41.75 meters) was deemed as too excessive.
At the fall of the Second Empire in 1870, the statue was not yet installed and was hidden in the customs warehouse. The statue could have been recast to erect that of Claude Bernard, which was never done, but it was recast without glory in 1902. The circle of the fountain of Desjardins was disassembled and reassembled in 1877 on the Place Carnot to host the fountain of the Republic until its final destruction in 1975 during the re-development of the square and the construction of the subway of Lyon.
It was decided in 1877 to build a new fountain on the Place des Jacobins : a competition was launched from 18 January to 30 June. The city council decided to “give to the Place des Jacobins and Lyon (Place de la République) a monument”. Two “second prizes” were awarded, one to Gaspard André for his project name “Art”. He was appointed to lead the final study, and his project, presented on 28 February 1878, was approved in May.
On 17 June 1878, a second competition attributed to Degeorges the creation of the four main statues : the statue of Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin was created in Paris and the other three, the statues of Gérard Audran, Guillaume Coustou and Philibert de l’Orme were carved in Lyon. The four artists are represented with their respective clothes.
Although the contract scheduled the completion for 1 November 1878, the statues were not completed until 1885. The works took place on 20 December 1881 and the monument was inaugurated on 14 July 1885. The fountain was included in the supplementary inventory of monument historiques (ISMH, 18/05/1992).