Edouard Bérard
Proposal for a triumphal bridge over the Seine

Proposal for a triumphal bridge over the Seine opposite the Guichets du Carrousel
Edouard Bérard (1843-1912)
Proposal for a triumphal bridge over the Seine opposite the Guichets du Carrousel
Circa 1896
Pencil and watercolour
H. 40; W. 123 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Projet de pont triomphal sur la Seine en face des guichets du Carrousel [Proposal for a triumphal bridge over the Seine opposite the Guichets du Carrousel]


The first Carrousel bridge had been constructed by the engineer Antoine-Rémy Polonceau between 1831 and 1834. Although its complex structure in cast iron and wood had been considered innovative at the time of its inauguration, it was very quickly seen to be too fragile and too narrow. Haussmann wanted to replace it with a wider bridge in line with the Guichets du Louvre.
The proposal that Edouard Bérard put forward in 1896 with the 1900 Universal Exhibition in mind was therefore not a huge fantasy but rather a response to an urban necessity. In addition, Bérard, having carefully thought about the actual construction and wishing to use a new material, reinforced concrete, had a study drawn up by the Hennebique engineering company. For the decoration, which would be in lead and copper, Bérard turned to the famous metal founders Monduit.

Repositioned slightly further downriver, the Carrousel Bridge became an imposing approach to the Louvre. Bérard's idea was to place two enormous statues at one end of the bridge, and have it resting at the centre on an enormous ship's prow, symbolising Paris. This project was never executed, but after replacing the wooden roadway with a metal one, it was decided to rebuild the Carrousel Bridge in reinforced concrete (1935-1939), the material that Bérard had advocated forty years earlier!




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