Sunday, July 31, 2011

Edgar Degas - Division 4 Montmartre

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Mystery of Antoine Cierplikowski - Passy Cemetery

Philippe Landru, the singular expert on who is who and who is where in Paris Cemeteries, recently sent me an email regarding the whereabouts of the incredible bit of statuary that once soared over the grave of Antoine Cierplikowski in Passy Cemetery (division 9).

I first read about this wonderful sculpture in the Culbertson/Randall book, Permanent Parisians, and when I got my chance to actually visit Passy Cemetery for the first time I searched all over but could find no trace of either the sculpture or the grave itself. (The conservation office wasn't terribly helpful on this one, I'm afraid.)

There the matter rested until Philippe explained what had happened. (If your French is up to snuff you can read about this yourself). If not, here's the story.

Antoine was born in Sieradz, Poland and in 1901 moved to Paris where he became one of the most well-known and creative hairdressers in the city. He became so famous that during the first half of the 20th century he opened a large chain of hair salons in Europe and in the United States.

Although he returned to Poland in the last years of his life, according to his best friend, the sculptor Xavier Dunikowski, his wish was to be buried in Passy Cemetery. But when he died in 1976, he was buried in Sieradz and a fantastic sculpture was created by Dunikowski himself was placed over the grave. (photo right)

(According to Philippe, the family had apparently refused to allow his remains to be returned to Paris, with the exception of his right hand, which was subsequently interred in Passy. It was over this grave that a replica of the Dunikowski statue was placed.)

Unfortunately, the ownership of the Passy grave remained temporary and in 1989 it was purchased by the Lemerre family. In 2004 the Dunikowski statue was destroyed but Antoine's right hand remained interred with the Lemerre family.

So, don't look for Antoine in Passy -- if you want to see the statue you'e going to have to go to Poland.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pam - Division 3 Montmartre

Monday, July 11, 2011

Charlotte Corday and La Chapelle Expiatoire

Guillotined at the Place de la Concorde on 12 July, 1794, for assassinating Marat, Charlotte's body was dumped into a mass grave near the Madeleine Church. In the early 19th century, those remains were eventually exhumed and placed into niches in Chapelle Expiatoire, dedicated to the memory of those guillotined during the terror.

On the other side of Paris, near what is now the Place Republique, one of the great poets of the late 18th century and an ardent revolutionist, Andre Chenier, was himself guillotined and his body dumped in the mass grave at Picpus. Among his more notable works, Chenier had written an "Ode to Charlotte Corday."

Le noir serpent, sorti de sa caverne impure,
A donc vu rompre enfin sous ta main ferme et sûre
le venimeux tissu de ses jours abhorrés!
Aux entrailles du tigre, à ses dents homicides,
Tu vins demander et les membres livides
Et le sang des humains qu'il avait dévorés!

La vertu seule est libre. Honneur de notre histoire,
Notre immortel opprobre y vit avec ta gloire.
Seule tu fus un homme, et vengea les humains.
Et nous, eunuques vils, troupeau lâche et sans âme,
Nous savons répéter quelques plaintes de femme,
Mais le fer pèserait à nos débiles mains.

Un scélérat de moins rampe dans cette fange.
La Vertu t'applaudit. De sa mâle louange
Entends, bell héroïne, entends l'auguste voix.
O Vertu, le poignard, seul espoir de la terre,
Est ton arme sacrée, alors que le tonnerre
Laisse régner le crime, et te vend à ses lois.

The black serpent, leaving his filthy cave,
Has finally suffered by your hand so sure and brave
The end of its venomous existence so despised!
From the tiger's guts, from his homicidal teeth
You came and drew what he'd devoured from beneath:
The blood and livid members of his victims sacrificed.)

(Virtue alone is free. Honor of our history,
Our immortal shame we live beside your glory.
Only you were a man, your knife did vengeance wreak;
And we, vile eunuchs, cowardly and soul-less cattle.
We can at best complain like women prattle,
But to wield a sword our hands would be too weak

In that mud crawls one scoundrel less.
Hear, lovely heroine, hear Virtue bless,
Hear the august voice of its virile praise.
Oh virtue, the dagger that hope will raise,
Is your sacred arm, when Heaven holds its thunder
And lets crime rule, while laws are cut asunder.

Edouard Cahen - Division 3 Montmartre