Saturday, July 2, 2011

No Really

Point of fact:  I have actually been working.  

My dissertation on Jules Dalou focuses predominately on his public works, sculptures found in parks, squares, and along city streets.  These sculptures, often large and commissioned by the public or the state, usually commemorate something or another--most often a significant person in French history, but sometimes an idea.  In addition to Dalou, many other sculptors of the Third Republic contributed a plethora of monuments to the public spaces of Paris.  This is all just a long-winded way of saying that walking around the city is also research.

So here is just a sprinkling of some of the important stuff (academically speaking) that I’ve tracked down so far.

Salle de Dalou, Petit Palais.

I have yet to track down Dalou's public monuments (that task is reserved for the next two weeks), so I have begun with looking at other various types of sculpture Dalou has done.  The most important "indoor" find is without doubt the Petit Palais.  The Petit Palais houses the largest collection of Dalou's works, though only a small selection is ever on display at once.  In addition to the room shown here, the Petit Palais also has a really interesting study for Dalou's Triumph of the Republic, which I visited my first night in Paris during the Fête de la Musique.

Pont Alexandre III.
Not far from the Petit Palais, the Pont Alexandre III spans the Seine with enormous stone monumentality and gilded gold glamor.  Dalou himself contributed to the bridge with four colossal stone lions, accompanied by the chubby children and vegetal still-lives typical of the sculptor's oeuvre.
I am quite fond of these lions--they possess a kind of Baroque grandeur, infused with a 19th-century artist's eye for naturalism.  While I would have to bet on a Barye-lion in a fight, I think the Dalou-lion is probably too dignified to stoop to cat-fighting, so happily I can avoid picking favorites.

Blanqui, Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Dalou also contributed two tombs to the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery (most famously known as the final resting place of Jim Morrison).  More on them (and probably Jim Morrison) later.

Frémiet, Joan of Arc, Places des Pyramides.
In many ways a counterpoint the revolutionary and republican works of Dalou, Frémiet's shining monument to Joan of Arc is royalist, reactionary, and catholic.  While Third Republic radicals were hanging out at Dalou's Triumph of the Republic, royalists went to go hang flowers on Joan.

Auguste Paris, Monument to Dantan, by the Odéon, Blvd. St. Germain.
If the Joan of Arc is Dalou's opposite, then the Dantan would be his compatriot.  When I saw this work, protesters chanted vociferously at its feet.  Despite the fact that this makes photographing this sculpture for research purposes quite impossible, it is ideologically the best way to view this sculpture as it was contested in its time for Dantan's position as a radical revolutionary.

St. Michel Fountain, Plaee St. Michel.
I'll be honest--I just threw this in at the end because it is awesome.  St. Michel with sword = epic.  Winged dragons spitting water = epic.  Ok--if you insist--that St. Michel up there was supposed to be Napoleon Bonaparte, but was rejected for academically interesting political reasons. 

I'll be honest again--I just wrote this heavily academic post so I could write the next one guilt-free.  Stay tuned.

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