Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, October 22, 2021

Monument a la Gloire des Armees Francaises de 1914-1918

Paul Maximilien Landowski (1 June 1875–31 March 1961) was a French monument sculptor of Polish descent. His best-known work is Christ the Redeemer above Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He produced over thirty five monuments in the city of Paris and twelve more in the surrounding area. Among those is the Art Deco figure of St. Genevieve on the 1928 Pont de la Tournelle. He also created Les Fantomes, the French Memorial to the Second Battle of the Marne which stands upon the Butte de Chalmont in Northern France.  He is also the sculptor  of another striking World War I  memorial, the Monument a la Gloire des Armees Francaises de 1914-1918.   The statue group is located against the wall of the Passy Cemetery at the Place du Trocadero in the 16th Arrondissement of Paris, close to the Palais de Chaillot. With the nearby spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower it doesn't draw much traffic today, and I can't begin to count all the WWI buffs that I've escorted to the site who had no prior awareness of its existence. This memorial took almost four decades after the Great War to become a reality.  EUTouring has an account of the epic struggle to complete it. 

Click on Image to Enlarge

Your Editor at the Monument

The National Committee of the Monument to the Glory of the French Infantry, now known as CNM, requested permission from the Prefect of the Seine to erect a monument at the Place du Trocadero, leaning on the wall of the cemetery of Passy and a competition for the design of this was launched on 24 February 1937.  The winners of this competition were the French sculptor Louis Henri Bouchard and the architect Albert Drouet, and along with other contestants, their models for the Monument a la Gloire des Armees Francaises de 1914-1918 were put on display at the Grand Palais for a few days at the end of November that year.  

Left Detail

Eventually the project was authorized to start in the July of 1939, but by December the area had not been prepared for the monument, including moving a sewer, but then came World War II, so the original monument was delayed indefinitely, and it was only through a letter in 1950 from the Director of Fine Arts expressing the need to re-launch the product for a monument, that this started to happen.

Street View

Even though the original monument was designed to be in recognition of the French infantry, it was then decided that this would become the Monument to the Glory of the French Armies during the First World War, rather than one specific division, yet at this time it was also decided the original designs by Louis Henri Bouchard were too ambitious and too expensive. So a completely new design was drawn up, which also included someone who had died for their country, being held by another female figure.

Right Detail

The already world famous Paul Landkowski was commissioned for the new design.  And although the project was confirmed on 30 March 1953, the design by Paul Landowski was approved on 12 October 1953, with the proposal of the monument being published on 26 October that same year, due to the works required by the City of Paris, the first stone was not laid until 11 November 1954.

Sculptor Paul Landkowski

The Monument to the Glory of French Armies was finally inaugurated by the president of the French Republic, Rene Coty, on 13 May 1956. It is an impressive length of 216.5 meters with two inscriptions, which read A Nos Heros to the left of the statue group, and on the right,  A Nos Morts.

Sources: EUTouring, Google Maps, Wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mike. It is a Monument that We will visit on our next trip to Paris. Love it's history of delays but still completed.