Did you Ever Wonder...

What famous sculpture in Paris unites 'Marianne' and the national anthem of France?

Click Image to Enlarge.

During the French Revolution of 1789, the new French Republic established the use of 'Marianne' as its' own national emblem. Although Marianne never became an official symbol, she nevertheless universally represents France as a State and its values and symbolizes and personifies 'Liberty' and 'Reason'. It was during its' First Republic and later, the Revolution of 1848 that the use of Marianne became more solidified. Nevertheless, a magnificent and entrenched example of Marianne applied on a military memorial can be found on one of the most visited monuments of Paris as well as "…is the most illustrious symbol of French national history": L'Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile. One of the monument's most visible and important component is its' pedestals or pillars ornated with four allegorical larger than life-size high reliefs or main sculptures that are treated as independent trophies. Of the four sculptural groups or panels at the base of the Arc, the most renowned is the 'Départ des Volontaires de 1792' (Departure of the Volunteers in 1792), which is also known as 'La Marseillaise' – the national anthem of France. Facing the Champs-Élysées, the sculpture depicts the departure of 200,000 volunteers in 1792 to defend the young Republic. Often quoted as a "work full of energy and fire", this colossal masterpiece created between 1833 and 1836 by the French Romantic sculptor François Rude (4 January 1784 – 3 November 1855) portrays Marianne – who represents the spirit of France – as an angry warrior voicing the Marseillaise and calling her citizens to fight. It is worth noting that there is a full-size copy of this sculptural group at the Rude Museum where it houses casts of monumental works by the Dijon-born sculptor.

Although the Marseillaise song was composed in April 1792 by Claude Rouget de Lisle (10 May 1760 – 26 June 1836), officer in charge in Strasbourg, following the declaration of war in France to Austria, the Marseillaise – despite its great success and popularity – was not adopted as its official national anthem until 14 February 1879 by the National Assembly. In September 2015, on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of the death of Rouget, the president of the French Republic announced that the year 2016 would be devoted to 'La Marseillaise'. 2016 – Year of the Marseillaise would allow each of the French, and to the youth in particular, to reclaim the link that unites La Marseillaise and the history of the nation.

On this day, 14 February 2022, we celebrate the 143rd anniversary of the official adoption of La Marseillaise as the French national anthem and commemorate the 186th year since the death of Claude Rouget the composer of La Marseillaise as well as the creation of François Rude's famous sculpture of the same name.

André M. Levesque

Scroll To Top