Friday, March 2, 2012

Eternal Light . . .

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While in Paris the other day for a morning trip to the Pitié-Salpetrière Hospital, in the church inside the hospital grounds I stumbled on the following artwork in a side chapel on a wall where it would be very easy to miss this surprising piece of graphic arts. I don't know who created it, when, or why, so there is some research to be done in that regard... If any of you alert and well-informed readers happen to know, please help enlighten me, I searched for quite a little while on Google but didn't come up with anything pertinent. These starkly drawn death's heads caught my eye particularly as they could very easily enter into the lexicon of artwork associated with the Grateful Dead, about which art a few previous posts have been done here.
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The message on the wall says in French : "Qu'ils reposent en paix et que la lumière du ciel les ésclaire éternellement". (old spelling of "éclaire"?), which translates as : "May they rest in peace and may the light of heaven illuminate them eternally".
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21 comments:

Le Journal de Chrys said...

Tu as tenté le N&B pour cette série????

Bises Owen

Bon weekend

Roxana said...

it's more than impressive! by the last pic, i was almost out of breath... oh

Steve said...

Gosh there is something almost 3D about those skulls... they seem to loom out at you...!

Robert Geiss said...

...haunting...

Gwen Buchanan said...

the texture of the wall compliments it perfectly...

Lydia said...

Amazing, Owen. It is strange how drawn I am to them, and can only imagine the power of the wall in real life. Thanks for these brilliant images.
I had to laugh that you Googled for info about them, now that Google is capturing even more personal information on us based on our searches. You gotta wonder what kind of advertising, etc. this would lead to if you had ads on your blog! (I am using Bing exclusively for my searches now...)

Catherine said...

How fascinating - the images strike me as very Mexican too!

distracted by shiny objects said...

Gorgeous.
Any chance that the chapel holds some bodies there?? A mausoleum perhaps?? Don't know the type of hospital, but here there are some--usually state mental hospitals-- who "back in the day" buried their unclaimed on hospital grounds.

I like mystery though, and that wall is perhaps more gorgeous because of it.

Virginia said...

Maybe the dead were grateful to be outta there? :)
I'm sure they've fired the head of marketing for the hospital by now.
V

French Girl in Seattle said...

Bonjour Owen. I agree with Virginia. Good thing only Monsieur Toad's sharp eye could detect these on the old walls. Imagine the hospital patients arriving at La Pitie Salpetriere and having to look at these on the way in... I guess they would lose a lot of their "customers" before the reception area, non? ;-) PS: You are correct, "esclaire" is the old spelling of "eclaire." Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Stickup Artist said...

What strikes me in addition to the gorgeous colors, textures, and the skull and crossbones, are those squiggly shapes. I wonder what they represent. Tears perhaps, or blood drops, or even perhaps, rebirth. I appreciate how you shot it both in detail and in the long view. It really helps us to grasp this striking image. I've never seen anything like it!

This is Belgium said...

how interesting... not very encouraging for patients who are being admitted to the hospital

Owen said...

In reference to a few above notes, I really sort of doubt that many people see this odd piece of art at all. Even if you were to go into the church which is in the very large grounds of the Pitié-Salpetrière Hospital, which is perhaps the largest hospital in Paris, composed of quite a number of large buildings, it would require going into the right side chapel, and then finding this on an obscure side wall, I almost missed it. Patients being admitted to the hospital would not go into the hospital church, the admissions areas and emergency rooms are in other buildings. It was indeed a mental hospital for some time, one of the earliest if I'm not mistaken, but I don't know if there were burials on the hospital grounds... another point to research. As for the tear drop shapes, good question, I was wondering too as I looked at them what they are... rain ? tadpoles for toads ? Indeed, mysteries galore...

Genie said...

I am totally engrossed in this piece of ancient artwork. I work with fibre much of the time, and I am wondering if some of the painting is on a gauze like fabric or if it is just a cover for the artwork.It is the second picture that looks this way. I will keep checking back to see if someone if knowledgable on this piece of work. Awesome captures and a wonderful post. genie

Clytie said...

Wow, how very interesting ... I wonder how many people find it?

I had to laugh at myself, though ... on that first picture especially I kept seeing hearts!!

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

After writing my latest post with reference to London's Bedlam mental hospital these images touched a chord. There is something whimsical about them for me, as well as acting as a memento mori. I do like your photos showing the texture of paint on stone with the sawmarks of long-dead stone-masons still stroke-clear, while in places the artist's paint has faded.

James said...

This is so cool! I was hoping to photograph something like this when we spent the day together. :)

louciao said...

So grateful for this great find! Good to have a little insouciant Dead music to play along with the tour. Thanks for that, too. It seems that some wag thought to put their own mark on the artwork by scratching a very primitive angel shape (triangular, with circle head, basic wings)as seen in the first picture. Maybe to cheer things up a bit. Who knows. And what about those squiggles, eh? Blood sweat tears and semen? The stuff of life. I think one of those close-up shots would make a most excellent design for a rug-hooking; the texture of the wall already suggests that of hooked wool on burlap.
(side note: I saw several skull motifs in various places over the weekend and, naturally, thought of my blog brother.)

Jenny Woolf said...

Fascinating texture, too.
Was it really that colour? That is also strange.

studiosparis said...

Creepy and fascinating. Just the type of imagery you need for a good Halloween bedtime story :)

Peter Olson said...

I visited the chapel with a very qualified guide, a retired medical doctor, who had spent some 30 years at the Salpêtrière. We had a look at these mural "decorations", and he confirmed that nobody really seems to know their origin. Sorry! :-)