Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile

Pope Francis and Obama exchange gifts/Michele Beidgian


Adorning the lower section of the southeast pillar of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, (facing Avenue de Champs-Élysées) is a sculptured high relief, executed by Jean-Pierre Cortot depicting Napoléon. In it Napoléon is crowned by Victory wearing antique vestments pressing a sword against his chest. In the background, to the right is a profiled kneeling man symbolizing a prisoner enchained at the feet of the victor. While to the left is an allegory of a city, with a crenelated crown kneeling before the conqueror whose protective hands extends over her. Above (and depicted here) winged Fame sounds a trumpet while bearing a standard as she soars across a palm tree, (ironically an image evoking the Egyptian expedition, the French Campaign in Egypt and Syria from 1798 to 1801).

So really why would I bother sharing so much about this imagery? Maybe it’s simply to illuminate the depths of a culture committed faithfully to resolving some sense of peace from the attack on one of their beloved city’s. Could you blame them? – Michele



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