Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sculptures of the Arc de Triomphe

 The Arc de Triomphe is always one of my first stops in Paris.  Up and down the Champs-Elysees and standing under her arch, looking out at all the main thoroughfares, is a wonderful introduction to the city's history.  One of the things I always find myself lost in are the statues created by three different artists.
 Le Depart de 1792 by Francois Rude, which celebrates the French First Republic.  Above the men and women is the winged symbol of Liberty.  The eyes of these sculptures, glowing in emotion, I sat under this statue for an hour.  I couldn't turn away.
Le Triomphe de 1810, masterfully erected by Jean-Pierre Cortot shows the Treaty of Schonbrunn and the crowning of Napoleon by the goddess of Victory.
Leave it the the French to have a Victory Arch in the middle of their city.
 La Resistance de 1814, created by Antoine Etex, memorializes the French resistance to the Allied armies during the War of the Sixth Coalition.  (Of course, I'd never heard of the War of the Sixth Coalition... nor have you,  you snotty little bugger!  But the child in the woman's arms, the old man holding the leg, the man rocked on the charging steed...and the angel overlooking is an amazing spectacle.)
La Paix de 1815 by Antoine Etex, commemorates the Treaty of Paris.  (Again, the symbols of the wheat and the bull, the soldier at home, the child in the mother's arms... these statues are so masterfully realized.)

I must have walked around the Arc de Triomphe five or six times, stopping each time to stare again at these amazing sculptures etched into the side.  Frozen in my tracks, I might as well have a seat and keep looking, both myself and these marbled facades were unable to break the gaze.

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