Paris – Latin Quarter – Panthéon: Les Sciences et les Arts
Image by wallyg
Les Sciences et Les Artes (The Sciences and The Arts) is one of five bas-reliefs adorning the entrance wall beneath the peristyle of The Panthéon. Les Sciences et Les Artes, along with the two other low reliefs in the center–La Magistrature and L’Apothéose du héros mort pour la patrie–were executed by Nanteuil on commission in 1837 to replace ones from the Revolutionary Period.
Le Panthéon, atop Montagne Sainte-Geneviève at Place du Panthéon, was originally built by King Louis XIV between 1757-1790 as Église Sainte-Geneviève, dedicated to Sainte-Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. Designed by Jacques-Germain Soufflot, it is considered one of the earliest and most prominent works of Neoclassicism. After many changes over the year, the Panthéon now combines liturgical functions with its role as burial place for famous French heroes.
When Louis suffered from a mysterious illness in 1744 he vowed to build a church dedicated to Sainte-Geneviève if he would survive. After he recovered, he entrusted the Marquis of Marigny with the task of replacing the ruined 6th century basilica, Abbey Sainte-Geneviève. Foundations were laid in 1758, but due to financial difficulties, it wasn’t completed until 1789-after Soufflot’s death, by his pupil Jean-Baptiste Rondelet. In the midst of the French Revolution, the Constituent Assembly of the Revolution decided by decree to transform the church into a mausoleum to accommodate the remains of the great men of France and building was adapted by architect Quatremère de Quincy. In 1806, the building was turned into a church again, but since 1885 it has served civically as a "Temple of Fame." In 1851 physicist Léon Foucault famously demonstrated the rotation of the Earth by constructing the 67-meterFoucault’s pendulum beneath the central dome.
The Panthéon is designed in a Greek-cross plan, 110-meters long and 85-meters wide, with a massive portico of Corinthian columns, modeled on the Pantehon in Rome, surmounted by a small dome that reaches a height of 83-meters. The dome features three superimposed shells, similar to the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
The vast crypt covers the whole surface of the building, Among those buried in its necropolis are Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Louis Braile, Jean Jaurès, Marie Curie, Emile Zola, and Soufflot.