Aix gate in Marseille: all the little sculpted details

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Heliopolis, by D'Angers - ©Robert Valette / CC-BY-SA Heliopolis, by D'Angers - ©Robert Valette / CC-BY-SA
Aix gate in Marseille Arch David d’Angers

Glory of war

Located on the road leading to Aix-en-Provence, our gate was raised between 1828 and 1839: 19 metres high, 12 metres large, it’s a real arc de triomphe dedicated to Empire wars! Marengo, Austerlitz, Heliopolis... beautifully immortalized by sculptors Jules Ramey and David d’Angers. D’Angers?

A genius sculptor from the middle of the 19th century, one of the most talented artist in his day! You can see his statues in the Louvre museum, in Orsay but also in Angers, his hometown! The Northern façade was designed by D’Angers, the Southern one by Ramey.

The low-reliefs

Well, what about those low-reliefs? On the Southern façade, we have wars of Marengo and Austerlitz, flanked by statues (now missing) of Strength, Clemency, Vigilance and Temperance.

On the Northern façade, we have battles of Fleurus and Heliopolis: on one side, we can see European weapons with cannons, spears, guns, shields, swords, armours... In middle of that, the Victory, unfolding its wings, writing the name of battle of Fleurus (1794) on a column.

Above this low-relief, we can see Austrian marshal Frederic de Saxe-Cobourg, with German soldiers on his left. He gives his sword to general Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, the one who won the war. Above, look at this! We have the 4 Virtues: Wisdom, touching her sword; Valour, near her lion; Resignation, pensive; Devotion, her hand on her heart.

On the Northern façade, but also on the other side, we have Oriental weapons: scimitars, armours flanked by a crescent, spears around a cannon... Why "Oriental"? To illustrate the battle of Heliopolis (1800), which took place in Egypt, where the French fought against the Ottoman army: we have here general Kléber in front of the defeated army... An improbable victory, 10 000 Frenchmen against 60 000 Turks!

Now, come here, inside the gate: Ramey sculpted the return of brave soldiers, while D’Angers made the Homeland calling for war. Among the crowd, you’ll notice a man, André Etienne: the famous Arcole battle drummer, with his bag and his flask, ready to go!


And also!