Friday, July 25, 2014

Pantheon, 1

We'd never been to the Pantheon before. I suspect few non-French tourists visit it, since it's an entirely and intensively French thing, originally a neo-classical church commissioned by Louis XV, converted to a "temple" to the greats of French culture and history by the Revolution, then see-sawing back and forth between Catholic church and national temple through a variety of empires, restorations, republics, and more revolutions, empires and republics. French history is tres dificile. It wasn't until the death of Victor Hugo, in the 1880s, that the nation finally decided it was to be the Pantheon of (some) French greats. One suspects each succeeding regime and administration uses it for its own political purposes. Perhaps the one most noteworthy feature of the Pantheon is the nearly total absence of women...just Marie Curie. New honorees get disinterred from elsewhere and re-planted in the Pantheon every now and then, and ones hope this great injustice will be addressed.
It's a huge neoclassical building; the dome is under wraps now
since some significant structural problems have come to light;
the repair work will continue for some years

Under the gigantic porch

Nave view

Looking upwards from what would be the nave

The main floor has a good many colossal
paintings, mostly religious subjects; here's
St. Denis finding his head (he'd lost it...)

Mostly about Paris' patron saint, St.
Genevieve, here urging Parisians to keep
calm and carry on, despite the approach
of Attila

The entire port transept was given over to an impressive
display on the life, work, and influence of Jean Jaures, the
great socialist political leader who was assassinated on the
eve of WWI 

A selection of books on Jaures; he still looms large in French
political thought, and the exhibit was largely about his
continuing influence

L'Humanite was Jaures' newspaper; he was
working desperately to avoid the violence
that would become WWI, but was shot by
a nationalist

Jaures' induction to the Pantheon in 1924; one of the major
icons of French politics is a photo of Francois Mitterand
placing a wreath at the tomb of Jaures in 1980, just before
he was sworn in as head of the first socialist government
since WWII

Angela Davis presumably paying homage to

Leon Blum, who evenutally replaced Jaures as socialist leader

Much of the main floor, apart from heroic paintings of St.
Genevieve doing miracles, features some similarly colossal
scultpure, mostly along nationalist themes

This one an homage to Rousseau

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