Abraham Lincoln Birthplace
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Chapter Three:


Figure 30: Pantheon in Paris, France

The distinction as to whether a memorial was public or private has always been ambiguous. While the ancient mausolea of Greece and Rome were public in the sense that they could be viewed, the circulation of the public through their interior spaces was limited. They stood as symbols of family prestige and power. During the nineteenth century in Europe, this ambiguity was accentuated, because the same architectural forms served as both public and private memorials. Usually, the expense and location of a memorial suggested its place in the public or private domain. [8] Complicating the matter further the interiors of mausolea often featured private commemorations exclusive of their public exteriors. Public mausolea, of primary concern to this context, will be defined as buildings, usually monumental in scale, that can be entered by the public, with the principal commemoration focused inside the building at the place of burial.

The ancient forms that inspired the designs of small neo-classical tombs in Europe also provided design sources for the public mausoleum. Designs for the monumental tombs, like the smaller, private mausolea, combined Greek and Roman temple forms with the needs of a burial site. Among the most significant public mausolea of the period is the Pantheon in Paris, designed by Jacques-Germain Soufflot, and erected from 1764 to 1790. Originally designed as a church, the Pantheon was rededicated in 1791 as a secular national memorial temple, and contains the remains of Mirabeau, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Victor Hugo among others. Its plan is a Greek cross with a dome and peristyle drum over the crossing. The large entrance portico is based on that of the Pantheon in Rome.

Figure 31: Walhalla

Buildings were also constructed at this time to honor national heroes without containing their remains, closer to the tradition of the ancients. In the early nineteenth century, Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria began collecting busts and statues to include in a temple honoring Germany's heroes. Walhalla, located near Regensburg, was de signed by Leo von Klenze between 1821 and 1827 and was completed in 1842. The marble temple, set on a hill above the Danube River was modeled on the Parthenon. German historical and allegorical scenes replaced images of Greek gods, and a seated statue of Ludwig I dominates the hall in a manner similar to the colossal cult statue of Athena once contained in the main body (cella) of the Parthenon.

Numerous architectural forms derived from antiquity remained largely free of funerary associations and were purposefully erected in the public sphere. In ancient Rome, memorial arches, or triumphal arches, were erected by persons, often the emperor honoring themselves or with the purpose of commemorating an event, notably a military victory. The most common types featured a single arch, such as the Arch of Trajan, built in 117, or a large, center arch flanked by two smaller arches, exemplified by the Arch of Septimus Severus, erected in the Forum Romanun in 203. These monumental stone arches functioned as large city gates or entrances to fora. Rich ornamentation included architectural elements, such as columns and entablature; sculptural elements, both relief and in the round; and incised text, usually in the attic level, explaining the dedication of the monument. Although the finest examples survive in Rome, nearly 150 triumphal arches can be found throughout the Roman Empire.

Arch of Septimus Severus
Figure 32: Arch of Septimus Severus

The triumphal arch was usually limited to commemorating martial events and individuals, but this did not diminish its popularity in neo-classical Europe. The Arc du Carrousel in Paris, designed by Percier and Fontaine in 1806-07, is modeled after the Arch of Septimus Severus. Erected by Napoleon I at the site of the Tuileries, the three-arched monument celebrates Napoleon's military achievements through relief sculpture, life-size figures, and a quadriga that surmounts the center arch. Napoleon began construction of a second monumental arch, far exceeding the scale achieved by the ancient Romans. The Arc de Triomphe, designed by Chalgrin in 1806 and completed in 1835, commemorates Napoleon's military victories, although Napoleon actually dedicated the monument to his soldiers and sailors. The single-arched monument measures 160 feet tall, 150 feet wide, with a depth of 72 feet. Similar arches, although constructed on a smaller scale, were built in England at this time and include John Nash's Marble Arch in London of 1828.

Events in Revolutionary France precipitated a change in memorial architecture, as memorials to events and ideals replaced monuments to individuals. Portrait busts and equestrian monuments dedicated to dynastic rulers gave way to monuments commemorating themes such as liberty and democracy. Although glorification of the individual returned with Napoleon, architecture, much of it derived from funerary forms, re placed sculpture as the primary means of commemorating the achievements of individuals as well as more abstract concepts. [9] Although other ancient forms of architecture, such as the triumphal arch and temple, contributed to the development of the public memorial, the column, and more significantly the obelisk, were most often chosen to honor important events and individuals in the United States. [10]

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Last Updated: 22-Jan-2003