Manneken Pis Dutch for ‘”Little Pissing Man”‘) is a landmark 61 cm (24 in) bronze fountain sculpture of a ‘puer mingens’  in central Brussels, depicting a naked little boy urinating into the fountain’s basin. It was designed by Jérôme Duquesnoy the Elder (1570–1641), and put in place in 1618 or 1619. The current statue is a replica which dates from 1965. The original is kept in the Brussels City MuseumManneken Pis is the best-known symbol of the people of Brussels. It also embodies their sense of humour (called zwanze in Brussels’ dialect) and their independence of mind.

Manneken Pis is an approximate five minutes’ walk from the Grand Place (Brussels’ main square), at the junction of the Rue du Chêne/Eikstraat and the pedestrian Rue de l’Étuve/Stoofstraat. This site is served by the premetro (underground tram) station Bourse/Beurs (on lines 3 and 4), as well as the bus stops Grand Place/Grote Markt and Cesar de Paepe.

Origins of Manneken Pis

The earliest mention of the existence of Manneken Pis can be found in an administrative document, dating from 1451–52, about the water lines supplying the fountains of Brussels. From the beginning, the fountain played an essential role in the distribution of drinking water. It stood on a column and poured water into a double rectangular basin of stone. The only representations of this first statue can be found, very schematically, on a map by the cartographers Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg, in which the fountain appeared to be installed directly on the street and not on a corner as it is today; it was depicted again in a painting from 1616 by the court painters Denis Van Alsloot and Antoon Sallaert representing Brussels’ Ommegang of 1615, as well as in a preparatory drawing to this painting, in which Manneken Pis is dressed as a shepherd.

The first statue was replaced by a new bronze version, commissioned in 1619 by Brussels’ city council. This 61-centimetre-tall (24 in) bronze statue, on the corner of the Rue de l’Étuve/Stoofstraat and the Rue des Grands Carmes/Lievevrouwbroerstraat, was conceived by Brussels’ sculptor Jérôme Duquesnoy the Elder (1570–1641), father of the architect and sculptor Jérôme Duquesnoy the Younger and the famous sculptor François Duquesnoy. It was probably cast and installed in 1620. During that time, the column supporting the statue and the double rectangular basin collecting water were completely remodelled by the stone cutter Daniel Raessens.

Manneken Pis histoire, © wikipedia