The Long Nineteenth Century

From the enragées to the dreyfusardes.

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The two “admirable caryatids of Puget” (technically atlases—they’re male figures) that almost became reduced by 50% until Valjean saved one from falling.

"Une fois, comme on réparait le balcon de l’hôtel de ville de Toulon, une des admirables cariatides de Puget qui soutiennent ce balcon se descella et faillit tomber. Jean Valjean, qui se trouvait là, soutint de l’épaule la cariatide et donna le temps aux ouvriers d’arriver."

The original town hall building was destroyed during WWII, but the caryatids and their balcony were saved because the Toulonnais had preemptively removed them and put them in a safe place. Now they’re on a new, nondescript building, but they’re in the same place—on the quay by the harbor, quite close to the water.

Unconfirmed anecdote: the caryatids are allegorical and have names to reflect this—the one on the left is “La Force,” and the one on the right is “La Fatigue.” The Toulonnais, however, preferred to call them by their nicknames: “Mal au dos” and “Mal aux dents.” It’s La Force/Mal au dos that Valjean is holding up in the illustration. Note how Bayard drew it as larger than life…

Filed under Les Mis Valjean Toulon Bayard book illustrations Puget sculpture les deux cariatides

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