The original statueAfter another attempt to steal Manneken-Pis in 1965, the statue was given to the municipal museum, with a copy put in place of the original at the fountain. It is this copy that is on display today. Broken in half, the original statue was restored in 2003.
In 1619, the Brussels Authorities decided to remodel the Manneken- Pis fountain, replacing the column, pool and statue. They placed an order for a new bronze Manneken-Pis with a renowned sculptor of the era, Jérôme Duquesnoy (circa 1570-1650). The artist sculpted a baroque interpretation of the theme of the urinating child, which has roots in ancient Greco-Roman art, where it was common to see Cupid, the god of love personified as a naked boy (with or without wings), depicted as a urinating boy. From the 15th to the 18th century, the urinating Putto (“small boy”) came into fashion in the arts, and was commonly used as a subject for public and private fountains in Europe.
Many-faceted enthusiasmManneken-Pis has long been particularly cherished by Brussels residents. Considered as one of their own, he has always been associated with celebrations in the city, during which he wears a costume. Brussels residents see themselves reflected in the little tyke, making him a symbol of their personality, which they want to be seen as mischievous and irreverent. As such, it comes as no surprise that Manneken-Pis is sometimes the standard-bearer for eccentric humour or the spokesperson for the mood of Brussels residents. It has been copied, imitated, reproduced and reinterpreted. Beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, which saw the birth of the consumer society and mass tourism, products bearing the statue’s likeness proliferated. More recently, artists have appropriated this symbol for themselves, imbuing it with personal interpretations.
For the renovation of the Manneken-Pis room of the Maison du Roi, Brussels artist Isabelle de Borchgrave agreed to create a paper replica of the clothes offered by Louis XV in 1747, the oldest example of the statue’s clothing that has been preserved. From her favourite artistic material, she has created a disturbingly realistic costume.