A nearby sign reads:
The Lillian Goldman Fountain of Life, 1905.
Charles E. Tefft, 1874-1951, Sculptor.
The Lillian Goldman Fountain of Life features a joyful sea nymph and a pair of heroic seahorses pulling a seashell chariot through the crest of a wave. As cherubic attendants struggle to control the beasts, a startled mermaid and merman hurry out of the way. The dramatic composition epitomizes the Beaux-Arts aesthetic at the end of the 19th century in New York.
After 100 years as the prominent statuary in the foreground of the Library Building, this dynamic sculpture was restored in 2005. The original bronze and ornate marble were repatinated and cleaned, respectively. A mermaid and merman were part of the original Fountain of Life sculpture but were missing for decades. The figures seen here were sculpted by Glenn and Diane Hines based on historical photographs, cast in bronze and returned to the sculpture as part of its restoration.