Friday, May 22, 2009

jour no. 23 - Vendôme

I love this crazy monument, and that's not even taking its fantastic history into account.

Place Vendôme was created by Louis XIV, who intended it to center on a giant statue of (who else) the Roi Soleil, in Roman dress but with a 17th-century wig. Luckily, this was never built.

Instead, in 1810, Napoleon had the Column built, to honor his victory at Austerlitz (as if the Arc du Carrousel wasn't enough). But that's not the end of the story. During the Restoration, in 1818,

...the statue of Napoleon was removed, melted down, and replaced by a giant fleur-de-lys. Then, in 1833, Louis-Philippe - always keen to oblige the prevailing mood - had the Emperor restored complete with bicorne hat; but the statue displeased his nephew, Napoleon III, who removed it to Les Invalides and replaced it with a copy of the original figure. In 1871, the Commune revolutionaries - under the guidance of the painter Gustave Courbet (!!! -Ed.) - brought the whole column tumbling down. Finally in 1875, Republican President McMahon had it restored with the present-day figure crowned in Caesarean laurels. (Seven Ages of Paris, Alistair Horne)

Oh, those nutty French! Just can't make up their minds about anything.

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