From the top of Mount Corcovado, the immense statue of Christ the Redeemer is the symbol of the city of Rio de Janeiro. With his huge open arms, Christ protects the city, which he proudly dominates at more than 2,000 feet. Thousands of miles away, another statue, more modest, also protects its city. It is the statue of St. Genevieve, patron saint of Paris, located on the Pont de la Tournelle.
If the benevolent look that these two statues pose, each, gazing upon their city, is an eminently spiritual point in common, the second is of a more artistic nature. Many people do not know it, but the sculptor who made the statue of Saint Genevieve in Paris is none other than the same artist who created the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. His name? Paul Landowski, and he is French!
Constructed in 1928, the statue of Saint Genevieve is a landmark of Paris. But for the artist this statue will remain, forever, synonymous with bad memories. Disappointed by the orientation chosen for his statue – with her back to the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris – he did not attend the inauguration which took place on August 27, 1928. Throughout his life, he remained dismayed by the demands of the commission, as his writings attest: “Passed the Pont de la Tournelle […] Always such a bad impression. It is a complete failure. Impossible for it to stay.”
Despite this unfortunate affair, Paul Landowski is an appreciated sculptor. In France, his talent was unanimously appreciated and he was even commissioned to create the tomb of Marshal Foch at Les Invalides in 1937. But his popularity is not limited to France. It radiates beyond French borders, so much so that in 1931 he was commissioned to create the famous monumental statue of Christ the Redeemer at the top of Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro. A large-scale project, he shared the work with the Brazilian engineer, Heitor da Silva Costa and the sculptor Gheorghe Leonida who made Christ’s head. With its gigantic dimensions, it remains one of the largest statues of Jesus Christ in the world. It was a beautiful project that undoubtedly made him forget his misadventures in Paris.