This whimsical fountain is known as both the Eli Bates Fountain and “Storks at Play”.
Eli Bates was a Chicago lumberman who died in 1881. He bequeathed a fund for the commission of Standing Lincoln, also by Saint-Gaudens, and this fountain, both to be placed in Lincoln Park.
Installed in 1887 it was a joint collaboration between Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his student Frederick W. MacMonnies
The figures for the fountain were cast by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company of New York.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens has been in this site before, you can read about him here.
In 1880 MacMonnies began an apprenticeship under Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and was soon promoted to studio assistant, beginning his lifelong friendship with the acclaimed sculptor. MacMonnies studied at night with the National Academy of Design and The Art Students League of New York.
In Saint-Gaudens’ studio, he met Stanford White, who was using Saint-Gaudens for the prominent sculptures required for his architecture.
In 1888, Stanford White helped MacMonnies win two major commissions for garden sculpture, a decorative Pan fountain sculpture for Rohallion, the New Jersey mansion of banker Edward Adams, and a work for ambassador Joseph H. Choate, at Naumkeag, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
In 1891 he was awarded the commission for the Columbian Fountain, the centerpiece of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago: the sculpture of Columbia in her Grand Barge of State, in the central fountain of the Court of Honor became the focal point at the Exposition and established MacMonnies as one of the important sculptors of the time.
In 1894, Stanford White brought MacMonnies a commission for three bronze groups for the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza.
Three of MacMonnies’ best-known sculptures are Nathan Hale, Bacchante and Infant Faun, and Diana.