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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Passy cemetery

A little less than 5 acres in size, Passy cemetery (opened in 1820), like St. Vincent in the 18th arr., is small, intimate and yet with much of the same characteristics found in the larger cemeteries in Paris: the look and feel of a necropolis, long avenues marked by benches, shading trees, and fantastic sculpture full of pathos, humor and life even in death. But unlike the Big Three cemeteries, Passy feels like a small village rather than a city, making you feel as if you were in a city whose inhabitants have all just stepped out to lunch. (photo: "Lolita" in division 2.)

Located just behind the Palais de Chaillot in the Trocadero area the cemetery is easily reached by Metro (Trocadero stop). (In fact the architect of the rather unattractive decaying hulk of the Palais, Jacque Carlu is buried in Passy.)

Culbertson/Randall is unfortunately of little help here. Apparently when the authors visited Passy preparing the 1986 edition of their guide they found that the cemetery was "not officially divided into sections” and as a result produced their own division numbering layout “to facilitate touring.” Today, however the cemetery is divided up into divisions which are clearly located on the official cemetery map – along with the ubiquitous large map near the entrance as well. And believe me a map here is essential as there are neither division markers nor any street signs in the cemetery proper. I also used Bertrand Beyern’s “Guide des tombes d’hommes celebres” which is a big help – he provides both a clear listing division-by-division of the well known buried here as well as a nice map of his own. (photo: I read somewhere that the tower was originally painted bright yellow.)

After Pere Lachaise Passy is most certainly my favorite cemetery and given its location and manageable size – not much larger than some outdoor galleries – I urge you to try and spend an hour or so wandering around here. You won’t regret it.

For a space this small, in the very shadow of the Eiffel tower, some truly remarkable people are buried here:

Composers Claude Debussy, Gabriel Faure, aviators Henry Farman, Maurice Bellonte and Dieudonne Costes, actresses Pearl White (of “Perils of Pauline” fame) and Jane Henriot (‘she came, she smiled, she left”), Bao Dai the last emperor of Vietnam, impressionist Edouard Manet, Marcel Renault (yes one of the Renault briothers who founded the company), Princess Leila Pahlevi, a daughter of the last shah of Iran. (photo: Jane Henriot in division 15.)

Also buried here are folks whose names are largely unknown but whose memorials are a testament to their wit and imagination: Harry Sharon, Albert Laurans, the Sander family, the de Sa Valle family, the Madrenas y Satorres family, Adelaide Boisseree and the enigmatic bit of stone over the family of Jose de Saz Cabellero:


To see these and other photos, just click here!

One curious note here. Culbertson/Randall, as well as Beyern and Fred Sofi in his website list a large, striking piece of sculpture over the tomb of Antoine Cierplikowsi; Sofi even notes that the piece was done by X. Dunikowski (although Xavera Dunikowski the Polish sculptor died in 1964, some 12 years before Cierplikowski). The photo of this sculpture in Culbertson/Randall is powerful indeed – unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be there any longer. In fact, the cemetery does not list it on its map nor have I been able to glean any information from them about what happened. Maybe you know?

3 comments:

Otto Nicholaas said...

I have left a message for you before but they not seem to reach you. Trying to warn you of some of the dissapointments you are bound to have. You have remarked before that Randall/Culbertson is inaccurate. This is true, but so are some of your remarks. The Dunikowski stautue is currently not in Passy cemetery. I have asked around but nobody seems to know where it has gone (maybe it has been stolen). If you look at the picture in Culbertson/Randall you wil see where it should have been, close to the outer wall, near the Henry Farman monument. If you do a little searching you will find an open space (near the grave of Leila Pahlevi). The tomb of Antoine Cierplikowski (which is marked on the cemetery map) is also gone. As the statue was supposed to be on this tomb, I presume it has been removed (for whatever reason). There are some new graves but I cannot imagine that even the French would remove this famous object to make room for something else.

Antoine Cieplikowski was also Polish (he was born Antoni) and commisioned some works by Xawery Dunikowski. The original sculpture is a sculpture done in sandstone in 1918 and called "The Soul Escaping the Body". There are three preserved versions of this sculpture. The others are in Warsaw (Krolikarnia) and Sieradz.

Not seeing the statue was a big disappointment. I can send you some pictures of the other versions if you wish.

Even so, I do agree that a visit to the cemetery of Passy is well worth the visit. Especially if you are going to visit the Trocadero and Eiffel tower anyway.

philandru said...

Hi steve,

To understand the "Cierplikowski" mystery, have a look to my website (in french of course, but you can translate it.

http://www.landrucimetieres.fr/spip/spip.php?article2848

See you
Philippe Landru

philandru said...

Hi steve,

To understand the "Cierplikowski" mystery, have a look to my website (in french of course, but you can translate it.

http://www.landrucimetieres.fr/spip/spip.php?article2848

See you
Philippe Landru