By Robert Aldrich;
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Additional info for Vestiges of the Colonial Empire in France: Monuments, Museums and Colonial Memories
25 A grand stairway, with a Buddha on the landing, led to the school’s library, decorated with fourteen scenes, painted by Georges Fraipont for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, of the Congo, Soudan, Madagascar and other 34 Vestiges of Colonial Empire in France colonies. An impressively large room with a gallery running around a mezzanine, it boasts a fifty-four-square-metre ceiling fresco by Claude-Charles Bourgonnier called ‘La France fait flotter le drapeau tricolore sur le monde’. The commission for the work specified the theme: ‘La France entourée de ses colonies et tenant d’une main le flambeau de la vertu fait flotter le drapeau tricolore sur le monde’ (France, surrounded by its colonies and brandishing the torch of virtue, unfurls the Tricolour over the world).
Nineteenth-century conquerors are well represented – Bugeaud, the Duc d’Aumale, Régnault de Gentilly, Brazza, Flatters, Lamy and so on. The last name – no others were added after the museum opened – is Paul Dislère, who died in 1926 after serving as head of the Ecole Coloniale. The most striking exterior feature is a gigantic bas-relief which covers the front façade and parts of the lateral façades: at 1128 square metres, the largest in the world. Sculpted by Adolphe Janniot (1889–1969) from 1928 to 1931, the myriad figures and scenes of the stone mural represent the contribution the colonies made to France.
39 Laprade, with Lyautey’s approval, determined to avoid an Orientalist pastiche that might have been expected for such an edifice (and that Jaussely had originally wanted), and chose instead to construct a resolutely modernist structure with classical influences, which would reflect the modernism of the French imperialist venture. It remains, along with the Palais de Chaillot, one of the finest examples of the Paris School of 1930s modernist architecture. 5 metres high at the cornice. It is built in reinforced concrete faced with granite, although quarryingstone taken from the old Paris fortifications fills the cavities of the exterior walls.
Vestiges of the Colonial Empire in France: Monuments, Museums and Colonial Memories by Robert Aldrich;