Peterhof - Favorite (Favoritka) Fountain
This fountain standing behind Voronikhin’s west colonnade gives us an idea of what the 18th-century Aesopian fountains looked like. In a shallow basin four ducks go round in a circle chased by a little dog called Favoritka (Favorite). The whole scene is accompanied by barking and quacking. This fable is explained with the following notice: “The little dog Favorite is chasing the ducks on the water; the ducks are saying to it: ‘It’s no good. You have the strength to chase us, but not the strength to catch us!’”
The fountain was built by Paul Sualem in 1725 and commissioned by Catherine I. It had a special water wheel under the basin that made the figures move. From three pairs of bellow the air travelled along pipes to the figures carved by Nicolas Pineau and passed through mouthpieces with special metal strips that produced the barks and quacks. Five years later Jakob Forster produced an automatic sound device.
When the fountain was first opened in the autumn of 1725 it was a huge success with the public, and according to a commentary left by a contemporary: “Favoritka barked and the two ducks cried, and the water jet reached four feet in height coming out of the four ducks.”
In 1730, the carved wooden ducks and dogs were replaced with new ones, made of sheet copper by L. Zadubsky.
The fountain idea was inspired by the Duck and Poodle group (les Cannes et le barbet) at Versailles.
During the war the fountain was destroyed by the German troops. All that remained of the sculptures were the figures of the ducks found at the bottom of the Marine Canal. It was restored in 1957 with exactly the same mechanism as before. The sounds are produced with the help of a tape recording, however.