The Fuente de la Templanza (Fountain of Temperance) is a semi-elliptical fountain in Chapultepec park. It’s directly across from the famous El Sargento ahuehuete tree on the Calzada del Rey, one of the park’s most important walk ways. Like much of Mexico City, the fountain sculpture has storied and curious history.
The sculpture is one of four commissioned in 1907 by President Porfirio Díaz to adorn the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His nephew, the architect Nicolás Mariscal, worked with sculptor Enrique Guerra to create the four figurative sculptures. Guerra’s four figures represent the cardinal virtues of justice, strength, prudence and temperance. His plaster models were sent to the workshop of craftsman Alessandro Lucchetti in Carrara, Italy. They were returned in time for the Independence Centennial and placed on the façade of the ministry building in mid-1910.
Remaining on the building façade until 1923, the entire place was eventually demolished for the expansion of the Paseo de la Reforma. At that point, the works went into the basement of the Legislative Palace where they remained until 1931. In that year, President Pascual Ortiz Rubio ordered the sculptures be placed in the Chapultepec forest. But, the governor of Veracruz put up a good argument that the works should moved to the hometown of sculptor Enrique Guerra. He’d grown up in Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz. Justice, Prudence, and Strength are there. Chapultepec received only modest Temperance. And thus the fountain is named only for Temperance, even to this day.
Incidentally, Xalapa did have a good copy of Temperance carved in marble in the 1970s. Mexico City’s other most famous work by Guerra is on the Avenida Juárez, opposite the Alameda Central. Titled Flor de Fango, Guerra created the work in bronze in 1908.
Today, the Fuente de la Templanza is a remarkable deep shady corner of the park. It’s not just a good place to witness the water splashing, but a contemplative corner where all that’s so good in the city somehow continues to be even if it’s not always complete.