Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Reifenberg Sculpture mystery

Tucked away inside division 53 of Pere-Lachaise is a wonderful bit of imagination crafted in stone.

Aside from the letters “MB” on the pedestal and the name "H. Reifenberg," virtually nothing is known about this stunning sculpture, its sculptor or the deceased. It nevertheless remains one of the more strikingly unique and puzzling sculptures in Pere-Lachaise.

Appearing half-finished this life-size sculpture has always struck me as an oddity of the best sorts: here's a young woman coming out of (or disappearing into) stone. Is she half in and half out, going neither one way nor the other? If you look closely you'll notice that she seems to be at a standstill, thinking, with one hand poised behind her left hip and the other under her chin. What is she doing?

Whatever she's up to, I find her most engaging -- and continue to wonder just who was this curious "Reifenberg" and what was the story behind the woman in stone?

An online search reveals little about H. Reifenberg. According to Adam Yekkes, in 1920s Paris there was a pianist "Madame Reifenberg" who lived at no. 8 in the very avant-garde, very exclusive rue Mallet-Stevens. Close by lived twin brothers who were both sculptors, Joel and Jean Martel.  At no. 7 lived Daniel Drefyus and nos. 3/5 lived Madame Allatini.

Robert Mallet-Stevens, the controversial architect of this unique cul-de-sac lived at no. 10. (The street was declared a national monument in 1975.)

So, who was H. Reifenberg?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Charles Henri Ver Huell - division 28 in Pere-Lachaise - then and now

Charles Henri or Carel Hendrik Ver Huell (also Verhuell, 1764-1845) was a Dutch, and later French, admiral and statesman.

Buried with Charles are his brother Christian Antoine (1760-1832) a Dutch admiral, and Charles's two sons: Maurice (1791-1810) and Charles (1797-1827). The monument was erected following the death of Maurice.
1825 by C. P. Arnaud


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Girodet-Trioson - division 28 Pere-Lachaise - then and now

Louis Girodet (also known as Girodet de Roucy-Trioson or Girodet-Trioson, 1767–1824) was a French painter and pupil of Jacques-Louis David. He is buried in division 28.
1832 by Quaglia

1840 by Marty
2006 by Steve Soper

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Beaumarchais and Comte de Ribes - division 28 Pere-Lachaise - then and now

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732–1799) was a French playwright, watchmaker, inventor, musician, diplomat, fugitive, spy, publisher, horticulturalist, arms dealer, satirist, financier, and revolutionary (both French and American).

It is unclear as to where Beaumarchais was originally buried when he died in 1799. Eventually, however, he was reinterred in division 28, near the Comte de Ribes.
1840 by Marty

2012 by Pierre-Yves Beaudouin

Saturday, September 26, 2015

General Maximillien Foy - division 28 Pere-Lachaise - then and now

Maximillien Sébastien Foy (1775–1825) was a French military leader during the Napoleonic Wars and wrote as highly-regarded history of the Peninsular War. Toward the end of his life he was a member of the national Chamber of Deputies and noted for his eloquence.
1828 by Marchant

c. 1830 by Pugin

1832 by Quaglia

1836 by Richard

1840 by Marty
c. 1841 by Furne

by Civeton

1855 by Solomon
by Didier Grau

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Bellevoine - division 28 Pere-Lachaise - then and now

Little is known about the Bellevoine family in division 28 other than they had a keen eye for a unique tombstone: nothing like a pile of rocks to mark the permanence of death.
1836 by Richard and Terry
2006 by Steve Soper

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Louis-Marie-Joseph Gossuin - division 28 Pere-Lachaise - then and now

Louis-Marie-Joseph Gossuin (1759-1821) was a general and civil administrator during the Napoleonic era. He is buried in division 28.
1832 Normand