This image is a microcosm of how there are so many different ways people can be honored and remembered with cemetery art.
On the left is a life size figure of someone who must have been very important during his life in Paris or elsewhere in France.
And on the right is an ancient gowned woman in a mourning pose with a lyre behind her.
Justin (pictured), Joseph, his girlfriend Tamy and I ventured to what is safe to say one of the most famous cemeteries in the world: Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise.
rural cemetery and the first municipal one.
Its size is 110 acres and it is one packed, high volume grave site. I find it hard to believe that there are 1 million people buried here, as Wikipedia states. But maybe it does have that many "residents."
Rural cemeteries were designed to look like parks, with lots of pathways, trees and other landscaping features.
and about which I have written two books.
Mausoleums are usually much larger. So perhaps this style is a mini-mausoleum?
This one is Cimetiere due Montparnasse.
Like Pere Lachaise, there are many creative, artistic and unusual grave sites.
This cemetery is one of four (including Pere Lachaise) that opened after Paris officials, in 1786, banned cemeteries within the city. This time period is when the Catacombs was becoming the underground depository for the skeletons of the dead that were being dug up around Paris due to growing public health concerns about having so many grave sites where so many people lived. See my earlier post from Paris about our visit to the Catacombs.
Morrison's grave is small and not on a main path. It doesn't stand out for its size or design, but does for all the people often gathered around it and for the many fresh (and plastic) flowers and other tributes left by fans.
Someone online said if you are walking around the cemetery and smell the smoke of marijuana, you are likely close to Jim Morrison's grave.
That wasn't the case for us.
There is a security officer on hand usually. We saw one who came out of nowhere when I tried to add our name on some nearby bamboo that was inscribed by many prior visitors.
James Douglas Morrison
Kata Ton Aimona Eaytoy
Translation of this Greek phrase: "True To His Own Spirit"
I have long been a fan of Jim Morrison and The Doors. So visiting his final resting place was something I was eager to do, especially in the company of my two sons.
More on his time in Paris can be read here.
I hope, Jim, that you did "break on through to the other side" and that it was Heaven you broke into and that you and Pamela are happy there.
Before coming to Paris, I had never seen Jesus on the cross sculptures on top of tombs.
At Montparnasse I came upon several like this. And what a powerful Christian image these project, especially one so large like this one.
The deceased must have been a strong believer in Christ and all His goodness to be buried with Jesus on the cross adorning and protecting his or her tomb.
Busts of the departed are also seen frequently at the two Paris cemeteries.
Beginning in the early 19th century, Montparnasse and Pere Lachaise set the bar high for artistry and excellence.
Antonin Proust (1832-1905) was a very distinguished looking man. He was a French journalist and politician. Another distinction is that a portrait of him was painted by the French artist Edouard Manet.
His life did not have a happy ending, as he shot himself in the head, dying two days later.
Maurice du Plessys was a French poet who lived from 1864-1924. He is in Wikipedia, so he must have been at least fairly famous and well known!
Emmanuel Felix de Wimpffen (1811-1884) at Pere Lachaise.
De Wimpffen, of Austrian descent, is most known perhaps for having to surrender a defeated army in the Franco-Prussian War in 1859.
A bereaved woman has her arm around a stone engraved with an image of Mr. Durie.
The family must have been proud of this beautiful remembrance and comforted to know that perhaps others in the family may one day rest eternally here also.
Wikipedia calls him an "iron master."
on a website as one of 10 "fascinating" graves at Pere Lachaise, coming in at No. 4.
Theodore Gericault (1791-1824) was his name.
The brief write up says how he lived to only age 32, dying of tuberculosis.
But Gericault left behind great work, including at least one piece, "Raft of the Medusa," that is quite popular at the Louvre.
But you don't have to visit the great Louvre art museum to see Gericault's masterpeice. It is depicted on his large sarcophagus below the relaxed life size sculpture of the relaxed artist at work. See the above photo for the replica of his masterpiece.
The crypt dates to 1871. This was definitely one I needed to know more about, so later in the day I would search online the names engraved on the side.
But in 1875 in an attempt to go even higher they would die aboard their balloon named Zenith some 28,000 feet up in the sky.
Their story is told here.
her post, titled" The Tombs of Artists: A Last Statement From the Grave."
She pointed out this one is the work of the sculptor buried here, a Spaniard named Baltasar Lobo who lived from 1910-1993. Meier describes this piece as a figure mourning or at rest on his grave.
Wikipedia describes Lobo as "an artist, anarchist and sculptor best known for his compositions depicting mother and child."
Zamora, Spain, near his birthplace, has a museum named for him.
It also has a simplistic starkness to it. No words or epitaph accompany this Jesus art. The onlooker needs to take it in and decide for himself or herself what the message is here.
This is an old flour windmill that has survived the centuries. The wind generating "wings" are long gone, but the structure stands tall. It once served as the home of the cemetery's caretaker.
Today it is closed off with a fence around it. Fits in nicely amid the varied stone structures, don't you think?
Auguste Rubin (1841-1909) was a French sculptor.
The young child seems to be depicted as having inscribed Rubin's name and birth/death dates on the tall marker, below Rubin's profiled image at the top.
The boy has started a line to draw or write something next.
But what? That is the question I am left pondering....
The women on top is full sized, relaxed but pensive.
Below on one side are four faces in profile. Family members, I think it's safe to say.
When combined with everything else within this fenced grave marker creates a true masterpiece of cemetery art.
The beautiful sculpture in the foreground of my photograph is of a woman, possibly an angel, with her arm around a boy.
It marks the grave of French politician and writer Eugene Spuller (1835-1896). He was a high level minister and cabinet member in different French administrations. He was involved on July 4, 1884 when the French government presented the Statue of Liberty to the United States.
The sculpture on his grave is a representation of a work called "National Education" by Paul Gasq, according to Wikipedia.
The red roses only accent the beauty of this work.
There is a lot going on here, so many women in different poses with different expressions on their faces.
The neighboring grave to the right is also strong symbolically and in sheer size and detail.
Such a moving scene here, such emotions.
It is a stark design of someone's arms coming up through the ledger stone.
I truly believe that. The creativity and craftsmanship are outstanding. And all done with hammers, chisels and other tools we today would consider very crude.
People back then, if they had the financial means, were willing to spend large sums of money to have created such iconic masterpieces for their deceased loved ones.
The spirituality, humanity and symbolism continue to provoke and inspire to this day.
"Beyond the Grave: What Old Cemeteries Tell and Teach the Living."