#2: Forsyth Park Fountain
“You’re just too marvelous. Too marvelous for words”
Forsyth park fountain
In his hit song, Too Marvelous for Words, Savannah-native Johnny Mercer wrote about a man who couldn’t find the right words to describe the girl he loved. And that’s exactly how this girl feels about Savannah’s beautiful Forsyth Fountain and the marvelous park that surrounds it.
In place of finding the right words, I try to create the most marvelous compositions of the fountain to include the best color palette choices I can imagine. For me, the task remains satisfactorily uncompleted, but each effort is a labor of love to which I often return for yet another heartfelt attempt.
Located at the southern end of Savannah’s Historic District where the city’s famous Squares laid-out by Savannah-founder James Oglethorpe end and Savannah’s Victorian District begin, sit the thirty beautiful acres of Forsyth Park. The park was named after a former U.S. Secretary of State, Representative, Senator and Governor of Georgia, John Forsyth, who also happened to donate the final parcel of land to complete this city’s favorite public park.
History and movie buffs might recall Forsyth’s small role in Stephen Spielberg’s (1997) historic drama Amistad. The film recounts the 1839 legal case involving the Spanish slave-ship La Amistad that was ultimately resolved by the United States Supreme Court and an elderly John Quincy Adams. At the end of the film, the African Lomboko slave fortress is destroyed by the Royal Marines under the command of Captain Fitzgerald. After its final destruction, Fitzgerald dictates a scornful letter to the Secretary of State asserting that John Forsyth was indeed (now) ‘correct’ in claiming the slave fortress did not exist.
This incident involving Forsyth led to President Martin Van Buran’s failed 1840 re-election bid and added to the continuous North-South, abolitionist-slaveholder tensions culminating in the American Civil War. It is impossible to toss a pebble in the city of Savannah without it landing nearby a fascinating incident from our country’s noteworthy history; which often includes events that must never be forgotten.
The Forsyth Fountain is the centerpiece of the park and one of the three most iconic images the city of Savannah offers; including the Bird Girl statue made infamous by Jack Leigh’s cover for John Berendt’s book Midnight in the Heart of Good and Evil, and the picturesque Wormsloe Plantation ‘Oak Avenue.’
The Forsyth Park Fountain was added to the northern end of the park in 1858 and remains as dazzling as any water-fountain that exists in the world. Each of my Forsyth Park Fountain paintings attempts to capture the Parisian-like atmosphere modeled by Savannah’s city planners to advance the city’s unique cosmopolitan appearance; to the best of my ability I’m usually also focused on capturing the luminous bright colors of nearby blooming azaleas, the fluorescent reflections off the fountain’s white cast-iron, and the water-spray radiating through the surrounding oak-lined greenery and hanging Spanish-moss.
Without doubt, Forsyth Fountain is too marvelous for words! Copies of this storied fountain can be found in three other places in the world: Poughkeepsie, New York; Madison, Indiana; and Cuzco, Peru.