Jonah was an Old Testament prophet. God wanted Jonah to travel to Nineveh and warn the people to change their ways or face destruction. Jonah refused and sailed off in a different direction. During a storm at sea, Jonah was swept overboard and swallowed by a large fish or a whale. After a few days, the whale spat him out, depositing him on the shores of Nineveh. It is this moment that Milles depicts in this fountain with Jonah, an astonished look on his face, balanced on the massive tongue of the whale.