Manneken-Pis

Jérôme Duquesnoy the Elder (+/- 1570 - 1641/1642)

Manneken-Pis does not strictly comply with the definition of a masterpiece. Although it is finely crafted, especially the facial features and hair, it is neither a masterpiece of its sculptor nor an accomplished work of its genre. Yet, it is, without a doubt, one of the best-known statues in the world and therefore, by virtue of this, can be considered to be a masterpiece.  It is necessary to look elsewhere for the reasons behind its success.

The theme of a child urinating stems from classical times and is part of the genre of anthropomorphic statues in fashion during Antiquity, which experienced a revival in popularity in the 15th century. In 1452, a source gives an account of the presence of a stone fountain "dManneken pist" on the same site. The creation of a new bronze statue based on this theme already shows a certain attachment to the Manneken. 

Prior to the installation of Duquesnoy's model, Manneken-Pis had already become a rather special public fountain because it participated in the city's festivities, such as the Ommegang, and was adorned with costumes. It is probably the only non-religious statue in the world that has so many outfits, which highlights the importance it has always had. By dressing Manneken-Pis, not only was it made a part of the city's life, but it was also a way of paying homage to it and, through it, to Brussels.