Colonne Vendôme

Franck French

Not on view

On May 16, 1871, a group of Communards led by the painter Gustave Courbet pulled down the Vendôme Column. In Franck's photograph its shattered remains litter the Place Vendôme.

Modeled on the ancient Column of Trajan in Rome, the Vendôme Column was built by Napoleon I in the first decade of the nineteenth century as a glorification of the victorious French soldiers who defeated the Russian-Austrian alliance at the Battle of Austerlitz; the seventy-six battle-scene bas-reliefs that spiral up the shaft were cast from the bronze of 250 captured Russian cannons. Louis-Philippe crowned the column with a statue of Napoleon in 1833, and Napoleon III replaced it thirty years later with another of Napoleon in Roman costume.

Colonne Vendôme, Franck (French, 1816–1906), Albumen silver print from glass negative

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