Peeing Statues - What Were They Thinking?

On today’s Life Takes Lemon post, Susan Ardelie shared some lovely photos from her trip toRouen, France. Of course, the one that caught my attention was the badly chipped statue of the little boy peeing.

Susan's photo of a statue
in Rouen, France
I lived in Europe for a short time when I was fifteen, and I recall similar statues popping up as we toured the continent. My adolescent mind found them humorous. My adult mind still does.

However, I have to wonder what the creators of those statues thought of them. I wouldn’t be surprised to find such a statue in a private garden, but if I remember my time in Europe correctly, you can also find them in some pretty august locations such as cathedrals or government buildings. Susan's photo is of a statue gracing the side of a church.

Manneken Pis (Little Man Pee)
 in Brussels, Belgium
(source: Wikipedia)
There is even a famous statue of the peeing boy in Brussels which was created in 1619, but as a replica of a much earlier statue from the 1300s. The statue’s origins are so obscure that several versions exist. Regardless of whether the original artist’s intentions were humorous or serious, the current residents of the city obviously have a sense of humor as they dress the statue up several times a week. (A sense of humor and a business sense as it has become a pretty popular tourist attraction!)

Manneken Pis ready for the Judo ring -
once he finishes with his business
(source: Wikipedia)
There have to be a few art majors out there whose studies included statues – peeing or otherwise. Any idea as to what was going on in the artists’ heads or those of the patrons who commissioned them?

As you know, my focus is on American history. I have yet to see a peeing statue in a public place. Must be our puritan heritage. I know you can order modern versions from a catalogue if you really want one in your garden, but I think my property association would have something to say about it if I tried to have one installed.


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