Manneken Pis is a monument of Brussels, Belgium. It is a small bronze fountain of a boy urinating into the fountain basin.
In the festivities the statue is adorned with several disguises. His “wardrobe” now has more than 800.
The photographs usually taken from the statue give a false impression of its true stature; many tourists are disappointed to discover a small statue instead of a larger one.
In Rio de Janeiro, there is a similar statue in front of Botafogo headquarters. The statue was adopted by the fans of this team and nicknamed “Manequinho”.
On April 28, 2007, on the initiative of the Portuguese community in Belgium, he was dressed in the typical Minho costume.
An unusual sight, this small statue of a boy just sixty-one inches tall urinating into a small tank is as typical of Brussels as the lions of Trafalgar Square are from London. The original bronze statue of Jerome Duquesnoy the Elder was put in place in 1619 and the ironic design reflects the genuine need for fresh drinking water in that area.
In the eighteenth century there were several attempts to steal the statue, especially by the French and British armies in 1745. But it was the theft of 1817, by an ex-convict, Antoine Licas, who provoked more alarm: the thief shattered the statue shortly after to have stolen. The following year a replica was made that takes the place of the original statue, and it is this copy that we see today (the original statue is in the Maison du Roi).
The inspiration for such a famous statue remains unknown, and the mystery led to the creation of rumors and fantasies, increasing the charm of this little boy. One of the accounts tells us that at the end of the twelfth century the son of a duke was found to urinate against a tree in the midst of a battle and was therefore celebrated in a bronze statue as a symbol of the country’s military courage.
In 1770, the column and the double rectangular basin disappeared; the statue was integrated into a new decor, in the form of a stone niche in rockery style, originating from another dismantled fountain of Brussels. The water simply flowed through a grating in the ground, which was replaced by a basin, in the 19th century. In its new setting, Manneken Pis gives the impression of being smaller than in its original layout.
The whole structure is protected by railings, the last version of which dates from 1851. The latter prevented access to water, relegating the fountain to a decorative and symbolic role. It is also the case, around the same time, of the other fountains in Brussels. This correlates with efforts by the City of Brussels, starting in 1855, to allow for the distribution of drinking water in homes.
The figure has been the object of theft or attempted theft. Legend has it that the statue was removed, in 1745, and found in the Flemish town of Grammont (Dutch: Geraardsbergen). As a sign of their appreciation, the people of Brussels gave this city a replica of the statue. In reality, the first attempted theft was made, in 1747, by a group of French grenadiers stationed in Brussels. The population rebelled against this deed and threatened a bloody revenge. To calm things down, the King of France, Louis XV, offered a gentleman’s gown of brocade, embroidered with gold, to Manneken Pis. He also authorized him to carry the sword, and decorated him with the Cross of St. Louis.
The statue was stolen, in 1817, by the fugitive Antoine Licas. The perpetrator was heavily punished; he was condemned to forced labor for life, and was first tied for an hour to stocks on the Grand Place. The original statue was broken into 11 pieces during this abduction and was restored by a specialized welder, under the supervision of sculptor Gilles-Lambert Godecharle. The pieces were matched and used to make a mold in which the bronze statue was poured. The statue was then screwed onto a new base marked “1620 – REST 1817”.