Marqueste's Waldeck-Rousseau

Laurent Honoré Marqueste. Monument to Waldeck-Rousseau, inauguration, 1909. Les Tuileriies, Paris

Not a monument to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, but one to Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau, the prime minister of France between 1899 and 1902, and something called an Opportunistic Republican: centre-left moderates, les sinistres, who reinforced republicanism against turn of the century resurgent monarchists.  

How things change, the monument at its inauguration in 1909 is tall, and a bronze seraph intersects the two-dimensionality of the marble piece. Blessed from above and sturdy workers below, and even below them, us, this monument needs no landscape, no ring of trees: it is a force unto itself.   Just as well, it now stands in front of a wall, the ground level has risen to diminish it, and the winged victory fled during the German occupation of Paris in WWII.  And are we bothered much about who Waldeck-Rousseau was, or, with the loss of information, do we simply see it as a generic beaux-arts salonism?  

Neither heroism nor politics have worn well when translated into allegorical figures: we have forgotten the allegories.  We are illiterate in the classics.  We don't know our marble, much less how to carve it.

Waldeck-Rousseau today

Stephanie Whitememorials