Vendôme Column erected by Napoleon I in Paris, France

In this episode, we’ll be visiting the Vendôme Column erected by Napoleon I in Paris, France. Welcome to Art, Culture & Books with me, Anthony King.

The Vendôme Column was erected by Napoleon I in Paris, France. The original column was started in 1806 at Napoleon’s direction and completed in 1810. Modelled after Trajan’s Column, it aimed to commemorate the triumph at Austerlitz. The exterior featured 425 spiralling relief bronze plates, crafted from captured cannon, a narrative propagated by Napoleon’s propaganda, although only 180 cannons were truly seized at Austerlitz. Sculptor Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret designed these plates, and a team of approximately 30 sculptors executed the vision. Crowned with laurels and dressed in Roman attire, Napoleon, depicted bare-headed, held a sword in his right hand and a globe with a Victory statue in his left. In 1816, during the Allied occupation, a daring attempt to dislodge Napoleon’s statue atop the column failed. Post-Bourbon Restoration, the statue was dismantled and melted down for the bronze used in recasting Henry IV’s equestrian statue on the Pont Neuf. Subsequently, Louis-Philippe erected a replacement statue of Napoleon in more modern dress. The Vendôme column faced destruction during the Paris Commune uprising on May 16, 1871. Following the Commune’s suppression, a decision was made to reconstruct the column, reinstating Napoleon’s statue at its pinnacle. The restored column, with a replica of the original statue, was repositioned at the center of Place Vendôme. Comprising a stone core enveloped by 425 bronze plaques affixed with pins, the column’s 280-meter frieze illustrates pivotal events from the Austerlitz campaign.

By Anthony King (c)