Equestrian Statue of Etienne Marcel in Paris
Etienne Marcel was a Provost in the 1300s, like we would now know as a mayor, and you will be able to discover a large equestrian statue of him located outside the Hotel de Ville City Hall in Paris.
A bit of history
Etienne Marcel was born into a wealthy Parisian family and he became a Prevot des Marchands, which translates to a Provost of the Merchants in English, and this title was what a person was known as prior to a mayor that we would recognise today.
Having been given this title in 1354 during the reign of King John II, it was only three years later that he purchased a mansion house called the Maison aux Pillars, and this became the administration centre in Paris for him and the council of Paris, which was right by a river port where merchants used to unload their goods.
Unfortunately, some of his ideas people felt he took too far and he was assassinated in 1358, yet he has become known as the most famous of all the Provosts, and the building was still continually used by the city administration.
However, during the reign of King Francis I, he wanted to construct a far more grand and impressive building to house the mayor, staff, etc, but the same location was chosen on the Place de Greve, as it was known.
The Hotel de Ville City Hall was constructed in a Renaissance style like the chateaux of the Loire valley after the former home and offices of Etienne Marcel had been destroyed. And although the Hotel de Ville you see today had to be reconstructed, it still remains virtually identical to the original, and is still the grandest in Europe, and this all stemmed from the ideas of Etienne Marcel.
About the Equestrian Statue of Etienne Marcel
A competition was launched back in 1882 to produce a statue of Etienne Marcel in memory of the person known for diplomacy and originally being fair in his views, even though he came to a very unfortunate end.
The statue was to be erected outside the Hotel de Ville in Paris at the Place de Greve, which is where Etienne Marcel had originally purchased his mansion house, as you may have read above, and the French sculptor Jean Antoine Idrac was chosen for the commission.
Unfortunately, Jean-Antoine Idrac died of typhoid in 1884 before this bronze statue was completed, and the work was taken over by Laurent Marqueste who was responsible for the horse Etienne Marcel is riding.
It was Theodore Ballu, who was the chief architect for public works at the Hotel de Ville in Paris that was chosen to design the pedestal upon which the large bronze statue would sit, but unfortunately, he also died prior, and it was his son Albert Ballu that carried on with the project.
Originally, the base or pedestal, was to be decorated with low reliefs, however, the design, which can be seen on display in the Musee d’Orsay, was abandoned and when the bronze equestrian statue of Etienne Marcel was inaugurated in the July of 1888, there were no inscriptions etc on the base at all.
Yet standing over 8 metres high facing out to the river, today, there are small carvings on the base now with his name, and because of the height of this statue in Paris with the tall pedestal, it can even be seen from the river if you are on one of the cruises on the River Seine.
Visiting the Etienne Marcel in Paris
As we have mentioned, the bronze equestrian statue of Etienne Marcel is located outside the Hotel de Ville City Hall just to the side of Place de l’Hotel de Ville, which was formerly known as the Place de Greve in the 4th Arrondissement.
And you will find that the nearest Metro station is called the Hotel de Ville stop via lines 1 and 11, however, there is also a Batobus water bus dock close by.