Saturday, June 1, 2013

Philatelic Photograph: L'église de la Madeleine - Paris, France

Interesting Places I've Photographed
L'église de la Madeleine
(Church of the Madeleine)
Paris, France
Topic: Philatelic Photographs

GPS: N48° 52.168; E002° 19.440

Quick Description: 

L'église de la Madeleine (Church of the Madeleine) is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. It is located at the head of Rue Royale in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France.

Long Description:

L'église de la Madeleine was designed to be a temple to the glory of Napoleon's Grande Armée. Two previous attempts were made to build a church on this site. The first design, commissioned in 1757 began in 1763 and was terminated in 1764. In 1777, Guillaume-Martin Couture renewed the project with a design based on the Roman Pantheon. At the start of the Revolution of 1789 work was once again halted and the existing structure was demolished in 1797.

On the symbolic date of December 2, 1806, the second anniversary of his coronation, Napoleon signed at the Posen Camp an imperial decree to erect a memorial, a Temple to the Glory of the Grande Armée, on the site of the Madeleine. A design competition was held and won by the architect Claude Étienne de Beaumont. The Emperor Napoleon, instead, awarded the commission to Pierre-Alexandre Vignon and his design based on an ancient Roman temple.

The L'église de la Madeleine is built in the Neo-Classical style inspired by the Maison Carrée at Nîmes, an exceptionally well-preserved Roman temple in southern France. The structure has fifty-two Corinthian columns, each 20 meters high, encircling the building.

After the fall of Napoleon in 1815, the restored Bourbon King Louis XVIII determined that the structure would be completed and used as a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. Pierre-Alexandre Vignon died in 1828 before completing the project and was replaced by Jacques-Marie Huvé. A new competition was held in 1828-29, to determine the designs for the pediment. Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire was awarded the commission and produced a sculpture of the Last Judgment in which Mary Magdalene is depicted at the feet of Jesus interceding for the damned.

Last Judgment by Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire
Following the July Revolution of 1830 the structure was rededicated as a monument of national reconciliation for repentance for the Revolution. The building was consecrated as a church in 1842. Today, the L'église de la Madeleine is a parish of the Archdiocese of Paris.

You would think that this important historic church would appear on a stamp from France. It actually does but only as a small addition to a stamp issued in 1954 to honor the French jewelery and metalsmith industry (Scott #714). In 2007, the African nation, the Republic of Guinea (Conakry), issued a large souvenir sheet featuring historic French monuments of Paris (Yv. #605). The single stamp on the sheet depicts the L'église de la Madeleine.

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