Statue of Sainte-Geneviève by Landowski
A Short Story
Located just upstream from Notre-Dame there is a bridge made notable by a tall, elegant statue at its’ southern end. Examining a map, the bridge is identified as the Pont de la Tournelle and it is just another example of the shear number of remarkable sites in this incredible city. The Pont de la Tournelle links the Ile St-Louis (the next upstream island from Notre-Dame De Paris), to the Quai de la Tournelle on the Rive Gauche. The Rue des Deux Ponts links the island’s two bridges in a straight line with the Pont Marie on the north bank.
In 1928, the City of Paris commissioned sculptor Paul Landowski to carve a statue of Sainte-Geneviève for the bridge. Paul Maximilien Landowski (1 June 1875 – 31 March 1961) was a French monument sculptor of Polish descent. He is best-known for his work Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Landoswki’s creation represents Sainte-Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris as a young woman protecting a child holding a vessel, the symbol of Paris. He sculpted the sixteen foot high statue directly from a single piece of stone. Mounted on a pedestal of equal height, the statue faces westward to symbolically protect the city from danger approaching from upstream. It needed to be tall to be seen from great distances. It is located on the spot where Saint Geneviève’s shrine stood in the year 885 before it was moved to its’ current home in Saint-Étienne-du-Mont Church.
A Note: At the time I took the photograph I had no idea what the bridge statue was about. I was simply drawn to the cormorant drying its wings high above the river. Only later did I research the statue and its sculptor – Paris is an amazing city…