The Milkmaid fountain that has become widely known simply as the Tsarskoe Selo Statue or The Girl with a Pitcher occupies a special place among the park sculpture of the former imperial residence: it is the only sculpture that was created specially for the Catherine Park.
In 1808–10, on Emperor Alexander I’s instructions, the gardener John Bush and the architect Luigi Rusca supervised work to improve the area of the former Coasting Hill. The slope between the Granite Terrace and the Great Pond was turned into a series of green steps; new paths were laid from the terrace to the pond and the outlet of the little canal to which the waters of a local spring, covered by the man-made hill, had been diverted was turned into a fountain constructed to the design of the engineer Augustin Bethencourt. At that time there was already an idea to decorate this part of the Catherine Park with sculptures, but the figure of the Milkmaid only appeared here in the summer of 1816.
The statue was created by the eminent sculptor Pavel Sokolov on the subject of La Fontaine’s fable The Milkmaid, or the Pitcher of Milk and cast in bronze in the workshop of the Imperial Academy of Arts.
Alexander Pushkin glorified the fountain in his poem “The Tsarskoe Selo Statue”.
A granite rock serves as a pedestal for the bronze sculpture of a girl. A jet of spring water flows from the broken pitcher lying at her feet to collect in the adjoining basin. Originally this basin was made in the form of a grotto entered by steps of Pudost stone. The grotto only existed until the middle of the nineteenth century.
At the outbreak of war, before German units reached the town of Pushkin, the statue of the Milkmaid was buried in the ground and for that reason the statue was not damaged. Today the bronze original of The Girl with a Pitcher is kept in the stores of the museum (the sculptor’s plaster model is in the State Russian Museum) and a copy, cast in 1990, has been set up in the park.