When painter John Sloan arrived in New York City in 1904, he first settled in Chelsea, not far from Madison Square Park.
The park soon became one of his favorite haunts, partly because of the diverse mix of people he could observe there, but also due to a 30-foot fountain at the south end of the park.
In his diary he called it the Throbbing Fountain. “Sat in Madison Square,” he wrote on September 9, 1906. “Watched the Throbbing Fountain.”
“Think I’ll soon tackle a plate on this subject,” he continued. “The sensuous attraction of the spurts of water is strong subconsciously on everyone.”
Sloan painted two views of the fountain, one in 1907 and one at night in 1908 (painted from memory, as it was apparently dismantled by then), and both show a fountain with its own hypnotic pull.