Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in Paris
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is a triumphal arch in Paris, located in the Place du Carrousel on the site of the former Tuileries Palace. It was built between 1806 and 1808 to commemorate Napoleon's military victories of the previous year. The more famous Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile nearby was designed in the same year, but it took thirty years to build, and it is about twice as massive.
The monument is 63 ft high, 75 ft wide, and 24 ft deep. The 21 ft high central arch is flanked by two smaller ones, 14 ft high. Around its exterior are eight Corinthian columns of granite, topped by eight soldiers of the Empire. On the pediment, between the soldiers, bas-reliefs depict:
- the Arms of the Kingdom of Italy with figures representing History and the Arts
- the Arms of the French Empire with Victory, Fame, History, and Abundance
- Wisdom and Strength holding the arms of the Kingdom of Italy, accompanied by Prudence and Victory.
Napoleon's diplomatic and military victories are commemorated by bas-reliefs executed in rose marble. They depict:
- the Peace of Pressburg
- Napoleon entering Munich
- Napoleon entering Vienna, sculptor Louis-Pierre Deseine
- the Battle of Austerlitz, sculptor Jean-Joseph Espercieux
- the Tilsit Conference
- the surrender of Ulm, sculptor Pierre Cartellier
The arch is, of course, derivative of the triumphal arches of the Roman Empire; in particular that of Septimius Severus in Rome. The subjects of the bas-reliefs devoted to the battles were selected by the director of the Napoleon Museum (located at the time in the Louvre), Vivant Denon, and designed by Charles Meynier.
The quadriga atop the arch is a copy of the so-called Horses of Saint Mark that adorn the top of the main door of the St Mark's Basilica in Venice.
Designed by Charles Percier and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine, the arch was built between 1806 and 1808 by the Emperor Napoleon I on the model of the Arch of Constantine (312 AD) in Rome.
It was originally surmounted by the famous horses of Saint Mark's Cathedral in Venice, which had been captured in 1798 by Napoleon. In 1815, following the Battle of Waterloo and the Bourbon restoration, France ceded the quadriga to the Austrian empire which had annexed Venice under the terms of the Congress of Vienna. The Austrians immediately returned the statuary to its original place in Venice. The horses were replaced in 1828 by a quadriga sculpted by Baron François Joseph Bosio, depicting Peace riding in a triumphal chariot led by gilded Victories on both sides. The composition commemorates the Restoration of the Bourbons following Napoleon's downfall.
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is at the eastern end of the so-called Axe historique ("grand historic axis") of Paris, a nine-kilometre-long linear route which dominates much of the northwestern quadrant of the city. It is, in effect, the backbone of the Right Bank.
Looking west, the arch is perfectly aligned with the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, the centerline of the grand boulevard Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe at the Place de l'Étoile, and, although it is not directly visible from the Place du Carrousel, the Grande Arche de la Défense. Thus, the axis begins and ends with an arch. When the Arc du Carrousel was built, however, an observer in the Place du Carrousel was impeded from any view westward. The central block of the Palais des Tuileries intervened to block the line of sight to the west. When the Tuileries was burned down during the Paris Commune (1871) and its ruins were swept away, the great axis, as it presently exists, was opened all the way to the Place du Carrousel and the Louvre.