Bronze fountain figure for Bela Lyon Pratt as studio assistant
“Boy with Foot on Turtle” title from Allen Diary
“The Boy with the Fish” title from Bela Pratt
Exhibited at the great Panama Exposition in 1912, in the Garden Exhibit Colonnade, this jolly boy with his foot riding a turtle, struggles happily with a wriggling fish. Allen was helping Bela Pratt with his sculpture projects at that time and mentions in May of 1912 in a list of “Prospective work for the Fall, Fountain (boy with foot on turtle).” There are several entries for “Boy Fountain” (see Boy with Goatskin) so it was a challenge to identify on which of the fountains he meant that he was working, but the work was all done that year. The book about the Exposition’s decorative murals and sculpture shows a photograph of this fountain figure says, “Bela Lyon Pratt, widely esteemed for his vital and imposing serious works, of which a splendid collection here exhibited has been awarded a gold medal, has amused himself and all of us with this jolly little garden piece, ‘The Boy with the Fish.’ It is a unique bronze, never to be reproduced or copied. … The moulds have been destroyed. But no one can stop the joyous memory in many minds of this spirited little elf, riding a turtle, struggling with his slippery fish and having so much fun about the difficult feat.”
If one considers Allen’s other boy fountain figures, one could surmise that he inserted his talent strongly into this little boy sculpture. Compare Boy with a Goatskin, a work done at the same time and described as “a charming fountain figure” and the “chubby boy figure … has humor.” Or work done 8 years later, “Duck Boy” and “Eros,” both with the same charm and action.
Note on other fountains made at the time: In addition to Goatskin fountain for Guy Lowell’s Piping Rock Country Club, a fountain had been ordered by a Mrs. Lawrence. Also listed in his diary at this time are a Dolphin fountain, a “Boy fountain” and a Frog Fountain.