Place Vendôme

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1er Arrt
Place Vendôme
Map pointer.svg
Map of Paris
Arrondissement 1st
Quarter Place Vendôme
Begins 356 rue Saint-honoré
Ends rue des Capucines
Length 213 m (699 ft)
Width 124 m (407 ft)
Creation 7 April 1699
The Place Vendôme Column-Paris.jpg
The Place Vendôme Column

Place Vendôme (French pronunciation: ​[plas vɑ̃dom]) is a square in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France, located to the north of the Tuileries Gardens and east of the Église de la Madeleine. It is the starting point of the Rue de la Paix. Its regular architecture by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and pedimented screens canted across the corners give the rectangular Place Vendôme the aspect of an octagon. The original Vendôme Column at the center of the square was erected by Napoleon I to commemorate the battle of Austerlitz; it was torn down on 16 May 1871, by decree of the Paris Commune, but subsequently re-erected and remains a prominent feature on the square today.

History[edit]

Place Vendôme, ca. 1890-1900

Place Vendôme was laid out in 1702 as a monument to the glory of the armies of Louis XIV, the Grand Monarque and called Place des Conquêtes, to be renamed Place Louis le Grand, when the conquests proved temporary; an over life-size equestrian statue of the king was set up in its centre, donated by the city authorities; this was by François Girardon (1699) and is supposed to have been the first large modern equestrian statue to be cast in a single piece. It was destroyed in the French Revolution; however, there is a small version in the Louvre.[1] This led to the popular joke that while Henri IV dwelled among the people by the Pont Neuf, and Louis XIII among the aristocrats of the Place des Vosges, Louis XIV preferred the company of the tax farmers in the Place Vendôme; each reflecting the group they had favoured in life.[2]

The site of the square was formerly the hôtel of César, duc de Vendôme, the illegitimate son of Henry IV and his mistress Gabrielle d'Estrées. Hardouin-Mansart bought the building and its gardens, with the idea of converting it into building lots as a profitable speculation. The plan did not materialize, and Louis XIV's minister of finance, Louvois, purchased the piece of ground, with the object of building a square, modelled on the successful Place des Vosges of the previous century. Louvois came into financial difficulties and nothing came of his project, either. After his death, the king purchased the plot and commissioned Hardouin-Mansart to design a housefront that the buyers of plots round the square would agree to adhere to. When the state finances ran low, the financier John Law took on the project, built himself a residence behind one of the façades, and the square was complete by 1720, just as his paper-money Mississippi bubble burst. Law suffered a major blow when he was forced to pay back taxes amounting to some tens of millions of dollars. With no way to pay such an amount, he was forced to sell the property he owned on the square. The buyers were members of the exiled Bourbon-Condé family who later returned to the country to reclaim their land in the town of Vendôme itself. Between 1720 and 1797, they acquired much of the square, including a freehold to parts of the site on which the Hôtel Ritz Paris now stands and in which they still maintain apartments. Their intention to restore a family palace on the site is dependent on the possible intentions of the adjacent Justice Ministry to expand its premises.

The Vendôme Column[edit]

The column Vendôme

The original column was started in 1806 at Napoleon's direction and completed in 1810. It was modelled after Trajan's Column, to celebrate the victory of Austerlitz; its veneer of 425 spiraling bas-relief bronze plates was made out of cannon taken from the combined armies of Europe, according to his propaganda (the usual figure given is hugely exaggerated: 133 cannon were actually captured at Austerlitz[citation needed]). These plates were designed by the sculptor Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret and executed by a team of sculptors including Jean-Joseph Foucou, Louis-Simon Boizot, François Joseph Bosio, Lorenzo Bartolini, Claude Ramey, François Rude, Corbet, Clodion and Henri-Joseph Ruxthiel.[citation needed] A statue of Napoleon, bare-headed, crowned with laurels and holding a sword in his right hand and a globe surmounted with a statue of Victory (as in Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker) in his left hand, was placed atop the column.[citation needed]

In 1816, taking advantage of the Allied occupying force, a mob of men and horses had attached a cable to the neck of the statue of Napoleon atop the column, but it had refused to budge - one woman quipped "If the Emperor is as solid on his throne as this statue is on its column, he's nowhere near descending the throne".[citation needed] After the Bourbon Restoration the statue, though not the column, was pulled down and melted down to provide the bronze for the recast equestrian statue of Henry IV on the Pont Neuf (as was bronze from sculptures on the Column of the Grande Armée at Boulogne-sur-Mer), though the statuette of Victory is still to be seen in the salon Napoléon of the Hôtel des Monnaies (which also contains a model of the column and a likeness of Napoleon's face copied from his death mask).[citation needed] A replacement statue of Napoléon in modern dress (a tricorn hat, boots and a redingote), however, was erected by Louis-Philippe, and a better, more augustly classicizing one by Louis-Napoléon (later Napoléon III).[citation needed]

During the Paris Commune in 1871, the painter Gustave Courbet, president of the Federation of Artists and elected member of the Commune,[3] who had previously expressed his dismay that this monument to war was located on the Rue de la Paix, proposed that the column be disassembled and preserved at the Hôtel des Invalides. Courbet argued that:

Communards pose with the statue of Napoléon I from the toppled Vendôme column, 1871
In as much as the Vendôme column is a monument devoid of all artistic value, tending to perpetuate by its expression the ideas of war and conquest of the past imperial dynasty, which are reproved by a republican nation's sentiment, citizen Courbet expresses the wish that the National Defense government will authorise him to disassemble this column."[4]

His project as proposed was not adopted, though on 12 April 1871 legislation was passed authorizing the dismantling of the imperial symbol. When the column was taken down on 16 May its bronze plates were preserved. After the suppression of the Paris Commune by Adolphe Thiers, the decision was made to rebuild the column with the statue of Napoléon restored at its apex. For his role in the Commune, Courbet was condemned to pay the costs of rebuilding the monument, estimated at 323,000 francs, in yearly installments of 10,000 francs.[citation needed] Unable to pay, Courbet went into self-imposed exile in Switzerland, the French government seized and sold the artist's paintings for a minor amount, and Courbet died in exile in December 1877.[5] In 1874, the column was re-erected at the center of Place Vendôme with a copy of the original statue on top.[citation needed] An inner staircase leading to the top is no longer open to the public.[citation needed]

Features[edit]

At the centre of the square's long sides, Hardouin-Mansart's range of Corinthian pilasters breaks forward under a pediment, to create palace-like fronts. The arcading of the formally rusticated ground floors does not provide an arcaded passageway as at Place des Vosges. The architectural linking of the windows from one floor to the next, and the increasing arch of their windowheads, provide an upward spring to the horizontals formed by ranks of windows. Originally the square was accessible by a single street and preserved an aristocratic quiet, except when the annual fair was held there. Then Napoléon opened the Rue de la Paix, and the 19th century filled the Place Vendôme with traffic. It was only after the opening in 1875 of the Palais Garnier on the other side of the rue de la Paix that the centre of the Parisian fashionable life started gravitating around the rue de la Paix and the Place Vendôme.[6]

In culture[edit]

The Place Vendôme has been renowned for its fashionable and deluxe hotels such as the Ritz. Many famous dress designers have had their salons in the square. The only two remaining are the shirtmaker Charvet, at number 28, whose store has been on the Place since 1877,[7] and the couturier Chéruit, at number 21, reestablished in 2008.[8] Since 1718, the Ministry of Justice, also known as the "Chancellerie", is located at the Hotel de Bourvallais located at numbers 11 and 13. Right on the other side of the Place, number 14 houses the Paris office of JP Morgan, the investment bank, and number 20 the office of Ardian (formerly AXA Private Equity).

After his death in 1990, American artist Keith Haring was cremated and his ashes were sprinkled out on a hillside near Kutztown. Except for one handful, that Yoko Ono brought to the Place Vendôme because she believed the spirit of Haring had told her to.

In the 1920s, American architect, Alonzo C. Webb worked making advertisements and designs in English for some of the fashionable houses along the Place Vendôme.

Place Vendôme was a 1998 movie starring Catherine Deneuve.

Panoramic view of Place Vendôme

Famous residents[edit]

Metro station[edit]

The Place Vendôme is:

Located near the metro stationsOpéraPyramidesMadeleine or Tuileries.

It is served by lines 1, 3, 7, 8, 12, and 14. Paris m 1 jms.svg Paris m 3 jms.svg Paris m 7 jms.svg Paris m 8 jms.svg Paris m 12 jms.svg Paris m 14 jms.svg

Place Vendôme by night

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Louvre picture
  2. ^ Walks in Paris
  3. ^ Linda Nochlin. 2007. 'Courbet, The Commune and the Visual Arts.' in Courbet. New York: Thames & Hudson. pp. 84-94.
  4. ^ "Attendu que la colonne Vendôme est un monument dénué de toute valeur artistique, tendant à perpétuer par son expression les idées de guerre et de conquête qui étaient dans la dynastie impériale, mais que réprouve le sentiment d’une nation républicaine, [le citoyen Courbet] émet le vœu que le gouvernement de la Défense nationale veuille bien l’autoriser à déboulonner cette colonne. [1],
  5. ^ Linda Nochlin. 2007. 'The De-Politicization of Gustave Courbet: Transformation and Rehabilitation under the Third Republic.' in Courbet. New York: Thames & Hudson. pp. 116-127.
  6. ^ Perrot, Philippe (1996). Fashioning the Bourgeoisie: A History of Clothing in the Nineteenth Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 41. ISBN 0-691-00081-6. 
  7. ^ Sarmant, Thierry; Luce Gaume (2003). La Place Vendôme: art, pouvoir et fortune (in French). Paris: Action artistique de la ville de Paris. p. 250. 
  8. ^ Chéruit, 21 place Vendôme, Paris, website

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°52′03″N 2°19′46″E / 48.86750°N 2.32944°E / 48.86750; 2.32944