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History in Objects: The Yoda Fountain

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The Story Behind Lucasfilm’s Iconic Presidio Statue

“History in Objects” is a continuing series exploring Lucasfilm’s legacy stretching from our founding in 1971 to today. Through objects both rare and commonplace, the company’s past, present, and future are brought to life.

The Yoda Fountain – which many fans have snapped a selfie with while visiting the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco’s Presidio – has become an enduring symbol of Lucasfilm itself in the years since its installation 15 years ago in 2005. The quiet, benevolent gaze of the Jedi Master seems to welcome visitors and guests to the studio campus, and is a chief attraction within the 17 acres of beautifully-managed parkland open to the public.

Lawrence Noble, who sculpted the bronze Yoda sitting atop the fountain in addition to several other life-size bronzes adorning the campus, began his professional relationship with Lucasfilm back in 1980, when the campaign to promote The Empire Strikes Back was getting underway. Primarily an illustrator at the time, Noble was commissioned to produce a poster concept for the film – one that didn’t include Yoda, ironically, since his appearance was still a well-kept secret. Though his poster concept wasn’t used (it did re-emerge for the film’s tenth anniversary in 1990), the character of Yoda made an indelible impression on Noble when he went to see the film for the first time months later.

“I was smitten,” says Noble. “I was so moved by Yoda I came home and went to the art supply store and bought clay, tools and did my first sculpture. Up until then I had not done any sculpture — I was just doing illustration.”

The result: an 11-inch statue of the Jedi Master which was produced in a limited edition of just 50 pieces and offered to members of the Official Lucasfilm Fan Club in 1990.

The experience and success of that first foray into sculpting inspired Noble to explore larger commissions, which have included the 27-foot tall “Spirit of Achievement” in Chino, California, and the seven-foot tall Coach John McKay memorial at USC. Two other commissions – the California Firefighter Memorial and San Bernardino County Peace Officer Memorial – were “very serious, very sobering memorials,” as he puts it, which left him emotionally drained by the end of the 1990s. So in 2000, when he was approached by a small group of collectors to produce a life-size Yoda sculpture, Noble saw an opportunity to re-charge.

For Noble, the Jedi Master will always hold a special place in his esteemed career of monument-making. “I am honored to have Master Yoda accompany me on my journey through life and art,” he says.

“I was emotionally wanting to complete the circle that started me in this direction and honor George’s creation in the process,” says Noble. “And then to see the reaction that Yoda has had on people has kept my spirits high. Yoda represents spirit in general and the spirit of the universal consciousness.”

The resulting sculpture, which was cast the following year at the Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, California, was produced in a limited edition of 25 licensed statues weighing 170 pounds at 32 inches high. All sold quickly and were scattered to multiple collectors around the world, including George Lucas. In fact, Lucas installed a first sculpture at his Big Rock Ranch campus in 2002, followed by one at the Presidio in 2005, the Lucasfilm Singapore campus in 2014, and finally one donated to Imagination Park in Lucas’ hometown of San Anselmo, where Yoda shares his perch atop a second fountain with another Lucasfilm character (and Noble sculpture), Indiana Jones.

For additional information on the Yoda Fountain, see this 2014 article from

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