A statue which survived...

I thought I should say a few words about this modest little square - named after Maurice Gardette, a resistant who was executed by the Nazis in 1941 – and this for two major reasons:

One reason is that this is where you can find one of the few metal sculptures which survived the Nazi occupation. A few have been remade, thanks to saved original plaster versions, but too many are missing. I have already referred to these disappearances several times and I have especially written about one original sculpture, which was replaced by an “apple” (I think this is a scandal, read my posts here). More generally I can also refer to this site.

This sculpture, which for some reason survived, is called “Le Botteleur” (a man binding hay) from 1891 and the artist is Jacques Perrin (1847-1915). You can find another statue by him in Paris, of Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-94), which was among the destroyed ones, but which has been replaced. 

The other reason refers to the Paris slaughterhouses. This square opened in 1872 after the closure of a slaughterhouse in 1867, referred to as the “Abatoirs de Ménilmontant” (and sometimes as the “Abatoirs de Popincourt”). It was one of five slaughterhouses created by Napoleon (yes, him again) in 1810 to replace the completely disorganized way of killing animals, including in the very city centre. These five slaughterhouses were built 1810-18 and were placed outside the then official city borders. Three more were added during the 1840’s. However, they were all closed and replaced by one, big, central one, at “La Villette” (see previous post), which opened officially in 1867 – and closed in 1974.  

The square is just a normal little one, there is a music pavilion (from 1899), a little pond, some space for kids to play… 

Here we can see where you found the slaughterhouse (1830 map) and where you today find the little square.


Jeanie said...

Thank you for sharing this, Peter. It is heartbreaking, the damage done by the Nazis and the war. I'm glad this one survived.

Maria Russell said...

¡Que lugar hermoso y lleno de paz! Estoy segura que Agnès Humbert lo aprobaria. Lei el libro de esta gran heroína francesa hacen ya unos años.
¡La desidia de las autoridades, responsables en lo que concierne al aspecto lamentable de esa manzana es increible!
Tus fotos siempre bellas Peter. Muchisimas gracias.