Eiffel/90e: Et pendant vingt ans, cette ombre odieuse de l’odieuse colonne de tôle boulonnée (How Gustave Bönickhausen became the father of the two most popular – but then most reviled – monuments in the world)

https://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/100_0349.jpgCaricature_Gustave_Eiffelhttps://i0.wp.com/dbs.ohiohistory.org/africanam/images/Nwspaper/Gazette/Vol04/num15/02_01/02_01.gifIt is proper that the Bartholdi statue should not be lighted until this country becomes a free one in reality. « Liberty enlightening the world, » indeed! The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders. Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the « liberty » of this country is such as to make it possible for an inoffensive and industrious colored man to earn a respectable living for himself and family, without being ku-kluxed, perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged, and his property destroyed. The idea of the « liberty » of this country « enlightening the world, » or even Patagonia, is ridiculous in the extreme. The Cleveland Gazette (1886)
II suffit d’ailleurs, pour se rendre compte de ce que nous avançons, de se figurer une tour vertigineusement ridicule, dominant Paris, ainsi qu’une noire et gigantesque cheminée d’usine, écrasant de sa masse barbare : Notre-Dame, la Sainte-Chapelle, la tour Saint-Jacques, le Louvre, le dôme des Invalides, l’Arc de triomphe, tous nos monuments humiliés, toutes nos architectures rapetissées, qui disparaîtront dans ce rêve stupéfiant. Et pendant vingt ans, nous verrons s’allonger sur la ville entière, frémissante encore du génie de tant de siècles, comme une tache d’encre, l’ombre odieuse de l’odieuse colonne de tôle boulonnée. Collectif d’artistes (« Les artistes contre la tour Eiffel », Le Temps, 14 février 1887)

Attention: un scandale peut en cacher un autre !

« Tour vertigineusement ridicule », noire et gigantesque cheminée d’usine », « masse barbare », « rêve stupéfiant », « tache d’encre », « ombre odieuse de l’odieuse colonne de tôle boulonnée » (collectif d’artistes), « lampadaire véritablement tragique » (Bloy), « squelette de beffroi » (Verlaine), « mât de fer aux durs agrès, inachevé, confus, difform » (Coppée), « haute et maigre pyramide d’échelles de fer, squelette disgracieux et géant, dont la base semble faite pour porter un formidable monument de Cyclopes, et qui avorte en un ridicule et mince profil de cheminée d’usine » (Maupassant), « tuyau d’usine en construction », « carcasse qui attend d’être remplie par des pierres de taille ou des briques », « grillage infundibuliforme », « suppositoire criblé de trous » (Huysmans) …

En ce 90e anniversaire de la mort de l’auteur – un certain Gustave Bönickhausen – des deux monuments les plus célèbres du monde …

Qui se souvient, comme en témoignent encore,  de Dumas fils à Maupassant, Gounod, Leconte de Lisle, Garnier et Prudhomme, la pétition enflammée de 300 de nos gloires nationales d’alors contre « l’ombre odieuse de l’odieuse colonne de tôle boulonnée » …

Comme, de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, les dix années de récriminations qu’avaient dû subir un petit groupe isolé de Français pour obtenir la construction du simple socle de leur encombrant cadeau avant qu’avec les guerres mondiales et ses campagnes de recruitement et de récolte de fonds l’Amérique daigne enfin s’approprier son plus fameux symbole …

Que ceux-ci furent aussi les plus décriés de leur époque ?

Protestation des artistes contre la tour

Wikipedia

Des articles, souvent pamphlétaires, sont publiés tout au long de l’année 1886, dès avant le début des travaux.

Alors que les fondations de l’édifice n’avaient commencé que quelques jours plus tôt, le 28 janvier 1887 exactement, une lettre de protestation signée par une cinquantaine d’artistes (écrivains, peintres, compositeurs, architectes, etc.) paraissait dans le journal Le Temps le 14 février 1887. Signée de grands noms de l’époque (Alexandre Dumas fils, Guy de Maupassant, Charles Gounod, Leconte de Lisle, Charles Garnier, Sully Prudhomme, etc.) et restée célèbre sous le nom de Protestation des artistes contre la tour de M. Eiffel, elle se montrait très virulente à l’égard de la hauteur de la tour qui viendrait, selon eux, défigurer Paris :

« II suffit d’ailleurs, pour se rendre compte de ce que nous avançons, de se figurer une tour vertigineusement ridicule, dominant Paris, ainsi qu’une noire et gigantesque cheminée d’usine, écrasant de sa masse barbare : Notre-Dame, la Sainte-Chapelle, la tour Saint-Jacques, le Louvre, le dôme des Invalides, l’Arc de triomphe, tous nos monuments humiliés, toutes nos architectures rapetissées, qui disparaîtront dans ce rêve stupéfiant. Et pendant vingt ans, nous verrons s’allonger sur la ville entière, frémissante encore du génie de tant de siècles, comme une tache d’encre, l’ombre odieuse de l’odieuse colonne de tôle boulonnée. »

— Collectif d’artistes, « Les artistes contre la tour Eiffel », Le Temps, 14 février 1887.

Un débat houleux mêlant des personnalités de l’époque, des responsables politiques, des journalistes, des ingénieurs suit cette déclaration.

Gustave Eiffel répondit à la protestation des artistes, dans un entretien avec Paul Bourde qui fut reproduit dans le même numéro du journal Le Temps, à la suite de la protestation.

Le ministre Édouard Lockroy remit au directeur des travaux, Jean-Charles Alphand, une réponse qui pourrait avoir été rédigée par un obscur fonctionnaire nommé Georges Moineaux, qui deviendra célèbre sous le nom de Georges Courteline.

Gustave Eiffel écrivit plus tard :

« Cette page bien française a dû étonner quelque peu les expéditionnaires du ministère ; la correspondance administrative n’est malheureusement d’ordinaire ni si vive, ni si gaie, ni si spirituelle ; sa sévérité s’accommode mal à nos vieilles traditions gauloises. Si M. Lockroy pouvait faire école, l’exercice des fonctions publiques serait moins monotone et certainement mieux apprécié. Le ministre avait su mettre les rieurs de son côté. Son procès était gagné. »

La tour Eiffel a attiré les foules après son inauguration, faisant taire les réticences petit à petit. Par exemple, deux ans après avoir signé la « protestation des artistes », Sully Prudhomme prononce un discours favorable à la tour.

On put lire ailleurs :

« ce lampadaire véritablement tragique » (Léon Bloy) ;

« ce squelette de beffroi » (Paul Verlaine) ;

« ce mât de fer aux durs agrès, inachevé, confus, difforme » (François Coppée) ;

« cette haute et maigre pyramide d’échelles de fer, squelette disgracieux et géant, dont la base semble faite pour porter un formidable monument de Cyclopes, et qui avorte en un ridicule et mince profil de cheminée d’usine » (Guy de Maupassant) ;

« un tuyau d’usine en construction, une carcasse qui attend d’être remplie par des pierres de taille ou des briques, ce grillage infundibuliforme, ce suppositoire criblé de trous » (Joris-Karl Huysmans).

Voir aussi:

Fundraising, criticism, and construction in the United States

The committees in the United States faced great difficulties in obtaining funds for the construction of the pedestal. The Panic of 1873 had led to an economic depression that persisted through much of the decade. The Liberty statue project was not the only such undertaking that had difficulty raising money: construction of the obelisk later known as the Washington Monument sometimes stalled for years; it would ultimately take over three-and-a-half decades to complete.[64] There was criticism both of Bartholdi’s statue and of the fact that the gift required Americans to foot the bill for the pedestal. In the years following the Civil War, most Americans preferred realistic artworks depicting heroes and events from the nation’s history, rather than allegorical works like the Liberty statue.[64] There was also a feeling that Americans should design American public works—the selection of Italian-born Constantino Brumidi to decorate the Capitol had provoked intense criticism, even though he was a naturalized U.S. citizen.[65] Harper’s Weekly declared its wish that « M. Bartholdi and our French cousins had ‘gone the whole figure’ while they were about it, and given us statue and pedestal at once. »[66] The New York Times stated that « no true patriot can countenance any such expenditures for bronze females in the present state of our finances. »[67] Faced with these criticisms, the American committees took little action for several years.[67]

The foundation of Bartholdi’s statue was to be laid inside Fort Wood, a disused army base on Bedloe’s Island constructed between 1807 and 1811. Since 1823, it had rarely been used, though during the Civil War, it had served as a recruiting station.[68] The fortifications of the structure were in the shape of an eleven-point star. The statue’s foundation and pedestal were aligned so that it would face southeast, greeting ships entering the harbor from the Atlantic Ocean.[69] In 1881, the New York committee commissioned Richard Morris Hunt to design the pedestal. Within months, Hunt submitted a detailed plan, indicating that he expected construction to take about nine months.[70] He proposed a pedestal 114 feet (35 m) in height; faced with money problems, the committee reduced that to 89 feet (27 m).[71]

Hunt’s pedestal design contains elements of classical architecture, including Doric portals, and the large mass is fragmented with architectural detail to focus attention on the statue.[71] In form, it is a truncated pyramid, 62 feet (19 m) square at the base and 39.4 feet (12.0 m) at the top. The four sides are identical in appearance. Above the door on each side, there are ten disks upon which Bartholdi proposed to place the coats of arms of the states (between 1876 and 1889, there were 40 U.S. states), although this was not done. Above that, a balcony was placed on each side, framed by pillars. Bartholdi placed an observation platform near the top of the pedestal, above which the statue itself rises.[72] According to author Louis Auchincloss, the pedestal « craggily evokes the power of an ancient Europe over which rises the dominating figure of the Statue of Liberty ».[71] The committee hired former army General Charles Pomeroy Stone to oversee the construction work.[73] Construction on the 15-foot-deep (4.6 m) foundation began in 1883, and the pedestal’s cornerstone was laid in 1884.[70] In Hunt’s original conception, the pedestal was to have been made of solid granite. Financial concerns again forced him to revise his plans; the final design called for poured concrete walls, up to 20 feet (6.1 m) thick, faced with granite blocks.[74][75] This Stony Creek granite came from the Beattie Quarry in Branford, Connecticut.[76] The concrete mass was the largest poured to that time.[75]

Fundraising for the statue had begun in 1882. The committee organized a large number of money-raising events. As part of one such effort, an auction of art and manuscripts, poet Emma Lazarus was asked to donate an original work. She initially declined, stating she could not write a poem about a statue. At the time, she was also involved in aiding refugees to New York who had fled anti-Semitic pogroms in eastern Europe. These refugees were forced to live in conditions that the wealthy Lazarus had never experienced. She saw a way to express her empathy for these refugees in terms of the statue. The resulting sonnet, « The New Colossus », including the iconic lines « Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free », is uniquely identified with the Statue of Liberty and is inscribed on a plaque in the museum in the base.

Even with these efforts, fundraising lagged. Grover Cleveland, the governor of New York, vetoed a bill to provide $50,000 for the statue project in 1884. An attempt the next year to have Congress provide $100,000, sufficient to complete the project, failed when Democratic representatives would not agree to the appropriation. The New York committee, with only $3,000 in the bank, suspended work on the pedestal. With the project in jeopardy, groups from other American cities, including Boston and Philadelphia, offered to pay the full cost of erecting the statue in return for relocating it.

Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the World, a New York newspaper, announced a drive to raise $100,000 (the equivalent of $2.3 million today). Pulitzer pledged to print the name of every contributor, no matter how small the amount given. The drive captured the imagination of New Yorkers, especially when Pulitzer began publishing the notes he received from contributors. « A young girl alone in the world » donated « 60 cents, the result of self denial. »[82] One donor gave « five cents as a poor office boy’s mite toward the Pedestal Fund. » A group of children sent a dollar as « the money we saved to go to the circus with. » Another dollar was given by a « lonely and very aged woman. » Residents of a home for alcoholics in New York’s rival city of Brooklyn (the cities would not merge until 1898) donated $15; other drinkers helped out through donation boxes in bars and saloons. A kindergarten class in Davenport, Iowa, mailed the World a gift of $1.35. As the donations flooded in, the committee resumed work on the pedestal.

On June 17, 1885, the French steamer Isère, laden with the Statue of Liberty reached the New York port safely. New Yorkers displayed their new-found enthusiasm for the statue, as the French vessel arrived with the crates holding the disassembled statue on board. Two hundred thousand people lined the docks and hundreds of boats put to sea to welcome the Isère. After five months of daily calls to donate to the statue fund, on August 11, 1885, the World announced that $102,000 had been raised from 120,000 donors, and that 80 percent of the total had been received in sums of less than one dollar.

Even with the success of the fund drive, the pedestal was not completed until April 1886. Immediately thereafter, reassembly of the statue began. Eiffel’s iron framework was anchored to steel I-beams within the concrete pedestal and assembled.[89] Once this was done, the sections of skin were carefully attached.[90] Due to the width of the pedestal, it was not possible to erect scaffolding, and workers dangled from the armature by ropes while installing the skin sections. Nevertheless, no one died during the construction work.[91] Bartholdi had planned to put floodlights on the torch’s balcony to illuminate it; a week before the dedication, the Army Corps of Engineers vetoed the proposal, fearing that ships’ pilots passing the statue would be blinded. Instead, Bartholdi cut portholes in the torch (which was covered with gold leaf) and placed the lights inside them. A power plant was installed on the island to light the torch and for other electrical needs.After the skin was completed, renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, supervised a cleanup of Bedloe’s Island in anticipation of the dedication.

No members of the general public were permitted on the island during the ceremonies, which were reserved entirely for dignitaries. The only females granted access were Bartholdi’s wife and de Lesseps’s granddaughter; officials stated that they feared women might be injured in the crush of people. The restriction offended area suffragists, who chartered a boat and got as close as they could to the island. The group’s leaders made speeches applauding the embodiment of Liberty as a woman and advocating women’s right to vote. A scheduled fireworks display was postponed until November 1 because of poor weather.

Shortly after the dedication, the The Cleveland Gazette, an African American newspaper, suggested that the statue’s torch not be lit until the United States became a free nation « in reality »:

« Liberty enlightening the world, » indeed! The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders. Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the « liberty » of this country is such as to make it possible for an inoffensive and industrious colored man to earn a respectable living for himself and family, without being ku-kluxed, perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged, and his property destroyed. The idea of the « liberty » of this country « enlightening the world, » or even Patagonia, is ridiculous in the extreme.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Liberty

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