Friday, 28 November 2014

Place de Révolution française, Montpellier

Modern-day France has an ambivalent relationship with its Revolutionary past. There are almost no public monuments, with one strange exception - the Place de Révolution française in a modern development in distant Montpellier. Created in 2007 the project was the brainchild of the controversial mayor of Montpellier and président of  the Languedoc-Roussillon region, Georges Frêche, and the design of a well-respected architect, Adrien Fainsilber. It is tucked away from the main town, on the opposite side of the River Lez, and is small-scale and slickly metropolitan in concept. Reproductions of iconic 18th-century sculptures sit on slender pillars set in smooth paving, surrounded by administrative offices. In the pictures there is no-one much around; one imagines the occasional office worker out for some air in their lunch break. Mortal enemies rest immobilised on their respective plinths and the blood of the Terror feels comfortingly remote. 

No-one in Montpellier seems to have been much bothered as to the political correctness of the display (though M. Frêche's subsequent plan to erect statues of Lenin and Mao in a "Place du XXe siècle" caused rather more ill-feeling....). 

Google Streetview 

There are several websites which have nice illustrations of the various statues, which are bronze on steel basesHere is a summary list of the original works:


Pierre-Jean David d'Angers
Louis-Marie de la Révellière-Lépeaux  [Angers deputy] (1824)
Joseph Lakanal (1839)
Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès (1830)
Louis-Antoine de Saint-Just (1848)
Georges Couthon (1844)
Marie-Joseph de La Fayette (1829)
André Chénier (1839)
Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu (1837)

Jean-Antoine Houdon
Antoine Barnave (between 1789 and 1793)

Louis-Pierre Deseine
Jean Sylvain Bailly (1789)

Emile Carlier
Madame Roland (1893)

Claude-André Deseine
Maximilien de Robespierre (1791)

François Martin
Camille Desmoulins (fin XVIIIe siècle)

Paul Eugène Victor Bacquet 
Georges Danton (vers1883)

Jean-Paul Marat


Feature from Harmonie (Montpellier Agglomération)  October 2007:

  Nella Buscot "Sculptures à Montpellier - place de Révolution française" [website]

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