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Joseph Sec: his strange mausoleum... and the murdered man

The mausoleum | Dumuids / CC-BY-SA
Burial place French Revolution Homicide Joseph Sec's mausoleum

Joseph Sec

Joseph was merchant in Aix-en-Provence, an erudite from the Enlightenment, follower of the French Revolution’s ideas. His mausoleum is a ″hymn to the glory and to the law″!

He was born in 1715 in a small town from Southern France, and started as a simple wood merchant.

He spent all his life in Aix, where he became a rich landowner: he even started the construction of the new suburb Notre-Dame in 1770, for instance. Joseph lived in this suburb: he wanted to be buried here.

He ordered his grave: a very special monument, with strange allegories and sentences carved on the stone!

A strange grave

We have a statue of Themis, goddess of Law and Justice. Here, saint John the Baptist with a lamb, and a low-relief with Jesus baptism.

Then, Moses showing tables of the Law to the allegories of Europe (a woman) and of Africa (a man with broken irons).

Below Africa, a low-relief representing Jesus, Mary and Joseph with this sentence: Sorti d'un cruel esclavage, je n'ai d'autre maître que moi. Mais de ma liberté je ne veux faire usage que pour obéir à la loi., ″I’m no longer a slave, I’m free. But now I only want to obey to the law″.

Then, four vases, plus the allegory of Law with her helmet, holding a balance: well, this statue used to be flank by Louis XVI’s portrait! Then, they replaced it by Joseph Sec’s portrait...

We also have big statues in their niches (characters from the Old Testament): Aaron, Deborah, king Saul, Jahel with his hammer, David fighting Goliath, Noah and his grapes.

The murdered man

Next to those statues, in this quiet garden, we had a weird work of art. The statue of… the ″assassinate man″!… It’s a life-size casting made of painted plaster, made on a real cadaver.

A worker who died on the site of Notre-Dame suburb, killed during a fight. A nice work, anyway, made by the talented sculptor from Avignon, Jean-Pancrace Chastel! A device even allowed people to hide and show the statue, with a wooden panel!

This device was re-used in Arbaud museum of Aix (they bought the statue in 1912), where we still can see the statue today.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!