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PARIS: The Arc de Triomphe



In sheer scale alone, the Arc de Triomphe is the most monumental of all triumphal arches. Standing at the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle - also known as the "Place de l'Étoile" - it’s located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.

It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. Laying the foundations alone took two years and, in 1810, when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed.

German soldiers in paris
Following its construction, the Arc de Triomphe became the rallying point of French troops parading after successful military campaigns and for the annual Bastille Day Military Parade.

Famous victory marches around or under the Arc have included the Germans in 1871, the French in 1919, the Germans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945.


The astylar design is by Jean Chalgrin (1739–1811), in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture - for example, the triumphal Arch of Titus.

The main sculptures are not integral friezes but are treated as independent trophies applied to the vast ashlar masonry masses, not unlike the gilt-bronze appliqués on Empire furniture. 


Arch of Titus
The four sculptural groups at the base of the Arc are The Triumph of 1810, Resistance and Peace and the most renowned of them all,

Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 commonly called La Marseillaise. The face of the allegorical representation of France calling forth her people on this last was used as the belt buckle for the honorary rank of Marshal of France. Since the fall of Napoleon (1815), the sculpture representing Peace is interpreted as commemorating the Peace of 1815.

In the attic above the richly sculptured frieze of soldiers are 30 shields engraved with the names of major Revolutionary and Napoleonic military victories.

The inside walls of the monument list the names of 660 people, among which are 558 French generals of the First French Empire; the names of those who died in battle are underlined. 

Also inscribed, on the shorter sides of the four supporting columns, are the names of the major victorious battles of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Arc de Triomphe

The battles that took place in the period between the departure of Napoleon from Elba to his final defeat at Waterloo are not included.

There was at the top of the Arc from 1882 to 1886, a monumental sculpture by Alexandre Falguière, "Le triomphe de la Révolution" (the Triumph of the Revolution), a chariot drawn by horses preparing "to crush Anarchy and Despotism". 

Unfortunately, it only lasted four years before falling into ruin.

Inside the monument, a new permanent exhibition conceived by the artist Maurice Benayoun and the architect Christophe Girault opened in February 2007. 

The steel and new media installation interrogates the symbolism of the national monument, questioning the balance of its symbolic message during the last two centuries, oscillating between war and peace.

For related articles click onto:
FRANCE: The Versailles Gardens
FRANCE: The Palais des Papes
PARIS: The Arc de Triomphe
PARIS: The Eiffel Tower
PARIS: The Louvre
PARIS: Where is the Eiffel Tower?
PARIS: Where is the Louvre?
http://www.museumofthecity.org/exhibit/occupation-france
Images care of http://shelf3d.com/i/Arc%20de%20Triomphe

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