This rare object is the most complete example of its type known to have survived from the Middle Ages, though they once existed in large numbers. The object is an exquisite piece of Gothic architecture in miniature. The fountain originally stood in a large catch basin. Scented water, pumped through a central tube, emerged at the top through a series of nozzles creating water jets. These in turn forced the rotation of the water wheels and rang the tiny bells. It is likely they were mounted on tripods or small side tables to be admired for their beautiful craftsmanship. Clearly they were a feat of technical ingenuity intended to entertain guests.
This fountain illustrates a type of object that was much loved by the Valois princes of France, including the dukes of Burgundy. Such objects embodied aristocratic values: magnificence in appearance, ceremony, and surroundings. Their splendid deployment of goldsmithing, illuminated manuscripts, tapestries, music, and pageants were emblematic of status, wealth, and power.