February 11, 2019
The Ornamented Eiffel Tower:
Awareness and Denial

The Argument

When the Eiffel Tower—the daring centerpiece of the centenary celebration of the French Revolution, the 1889 Exposition Universelle—was new, it was widely disparaged for its impertinent mechanical appearance. The distinctive 300-meter iron structure still looms over western Paris from the Champ de Mars close to the Seine, but it is now admired, even adored.1 The history of the Tower thus contains a two-fold surprise: it was the odd World’s Fair edifice to survive, and, though once reviled, it is now loved. Not only has the old derrick-shaped monument become endearing, its thrusting gigantism, surprising shape, and unapologetically industrial materials, along with its attention-grabbing nocturnal lighting and mesmerizing daytime transparency, make it inescapable in many districts of the French capital city.2 And not only there: owing to its nonstop reproduction and circulation, its familiarity exceeds the spaces of Paris.3 On account of its global popularity, it is called an urban icon. According to leading image historians, the Tower is “a reference-point for urban signification,” “the iconic object of Paris,” and “the archetype for all urban icons to follow.”4 The parent of this outlook was literary critic Roland Barthes. In 1964, he argued influentially that the bases of the Tower’s clout are its widespread fame and its emptiness: it is both “a pure signifier” and “an utterly useless monument” meaning that wherever the Tower is known, it absorbs any claim whatsoever about its identity and significance.5

I take my distance from Barthes’s perspective in what follows. My aim is to complicate the conspicuousness of the contemporary Tower by historicizing it and its representations. The fundamental fact about the appearance of the Tower is that it is not today what it was at the start. Of course, its lighting has been altered repeatedly, but more importantly the silhouette and overall visual personality of the 1889 iron titan were fundamentally changed in 1937, forty-eight years after its construction. The highly ornamental scalloped arcades of its first platform (fig. 1), at the center of my analysis, were torn off and discarded.6 The modification was a stylistic update; the Tower was to appear less old-fashioned in the context of that year’s self-consciously modern Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne.7 Its stripped-down appearance was meant to fall in line with, even mirror, the reductive style of the new structure across the Seine on the Hill of Chaillot. The aerodynamically sleek Art Déco Palais de Chaillot, still in place, arose to camouflage and largely replace the elegant Palais de Trocadéro. Designed by Gabriel Davioud and Jules Bourdais, the earlier building had been the centerpiece of the 1878 Exposition Universelle, and the only structure to survive the fair, if not forever.

Fig. 1. Figaro Exposition, no. 6, supplément du Figaro, Exposition universelle, 15 septembre 1889.

1964 was another benchmark year in the history of the now celebrated monument.8 The French government recognized La Tour Eiffel as a noteworthy part of the French patrimoine, securing the survival of the seventy-five-year old Tower in its rather recently modernized form. André Malraux, Ministre d’État des affaires culturelles from 1959 to 1969, declared it a historical monument (monument historique), a sign of its accelerating popularity, insuring that it would not be altered again in any consequential way without authorization at the highest level.9 Another accolade from 1964, also the date of Barthes’s essay, belongs to the history of the Tower’s enhanced postwar reputation. During his first trip to the French capital, the young English novelist Julian Barnes captured the 1960s celebrity of the Tower by calling it “absurd and absurdly popular.”10

That the almost 130-year-old Tower has been a monument sacréfor fifty-five years has clouded both popular and specialist awareness of its transformation. Because we are familiar with Barthes’s, Malraux’s and Barnes’s Tower, the stripped-down post-1937 structure, which features a ruthlessly geometricized horizontal construction as its first platform (fig. 2), key aspects of its initial lacey ornament have not figured in histories of the structure, its reception, and representation. Answering the questions—who noticed the ornament when the Tower was new? and so what?—is a goal of this essay. Ignorance or disavowal of its ornament enabled many of the protests hurled in its direction.11

Fig. 2. Exposition international des arts et techniques, Paris 1937, “la foule des visiteurs sous la Tour Eiffel le jour de l’ouverture, photographie de presse,” 1937. Gallica.bnf.fr. 

I argue that many of the attacks on the Tower that were oblivious to its flowery ironwork mirrored disquiet about the specter of heavy smoke-belching industry in or very close to the French capital city. Napoléon III and Haussmann discouraged the presence of coal-based industry mid-century by raising the tax on coal, resulting in the migration of factories to Saint-Denis, for example.12 My point is that the denunciation of the Tower as a despised factory chimney could have indexed anxiety about the return of industry; the return of the repressed. Also germane are the passionate and anxious discussions about the expansion of industry into the banlieue, begun during the third quarter of the century, and its polluting effects.13 Small wonder then that the sight of the Tower could foster what I shall call Pylon Vision, inasmuch as it was called a “factory chimney,” the essential industrial form, by some of its detractors, including J.-K. Huysmans, or reckoned to herald, in the words of another period voice, “the triumphant return of industry to Paris.”14

Origins of the 1889 Tower

Known almost from the very start as La Tour Eiffel after Gustave Eiffel, the astute engineer who spearheaded the project, the renowned tour de trois cents mètreswas the winning entry (out of 107) in a French government competition for a 300-meter tower.15 It was created as the clouof the French capital’s fourth World’s Fair since mid-century. As the tallest structure on earth in 1889, it outdid its nearest competitor, a 169-meter stone obelisk across the Atlantic, the Washington Monument (on the National Mall in Washington, DC), completed in 1884 but not dedicated until 1888.16

The enormous open-work four-footed structure, made of seven thousand tons of iron and erected in less than two years, was richly decorated overall but especially, as already noted,  across the first platform.17 It bore a dazzlingly bright red painted surface (changed to brown in 1899 in preparation of the next Exposition Universelle; fig. 3).18 Georges Garen’s gravure(fig. 4) highlights the dazzling nighttime effects of the Tower’s éclairage: 10,000 gas lit globes glowed brightly, and ferociously intense electric searchlights streamed from the campanile(as its crest was called) at the summit.

Fig. 3. “Première remise en peinture de la Tour Eiffel,” 1899. Reproduced in Marc Gaillard, Paris: Les Expositions Universelles de 1855 à 1937(Paris: Les Presses Franciliennes, 2003), 83.
Fig. 4. Georges Garen, Embrasement de la Tour Eiffel, 1889. Color print, 65 x 45.3 cm. Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Two aspects of the Tower’s inaugural aesthetic remain little studied: its radical initial conception (1884) and its original adornments (1889). On the former, it began conceptual life in 1884 as a rigorously stripped-down metal pylône (fig. 5) designed by two chief engineers in Eiffel’s office, the Compagnie des Établissements Eiffel, Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier. The word “pylon” is Koechlin’s own: describing his sketch of 6 June 1884 he called it “a large pylon consisting of four trellised beams separated at the base and narrowing toward the summit, joined together by metal girders placed at regular intervals.”19 It was in other words a large pylon with four columns of lattice-work girders, separated at the base and joined at the top. They would be joined together by more girders spaced at regular intervals. Acting on the basis of the Koechlin-Nouguier plan, on 18 September 1884 Eiffel registered a patent under his and the two engineers’ names “for a new configuration allowing the construction of metal supports and pylons capable of exceeding a height of 300 meters.”20

Fig. 5. Maurice Koechlin, Pylône de 300 m. de hauteur, 6 June 1884. Public domain, Wikimedia commons, authorization given by the Koechlin family.

Pylons, standard metal bridge components, were familiar structures in the engineering world thanks in large part to Eiffel’s earlier specialization in bridges. Koechlin’s use of the word “pylône” in 1884 is clear proof of that terminological fluency. For example, Eiffel’s 162-meter span Garabit Viaduct (1880–1884), a railway bridge over the Truyère River in southern France, the highest bridge in the world at the time, consisted of a long horizontal bed supported by a broad iron arch and two pylons. Another apposite high-profile metal structure, albeit eventually concealed, was the one designed by Eiffel for the interior of Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty, completed in 1883. A twenty-eight-meter pylon was the central attachment point for the network of girders that formed the statue’s body. Koechlin’s 1884 design emulated such functional structures by imagining the 300-meter Tower as a free-standing, oversized, brashly exposed, and functionless pylon. Despite the lacey ornamentation that festooned the completed Tower, many observers could only see it as a pylon. As a consequence, numerous opinions of the Tower were hostage to the limitations of what I call “Pylon Vision.”

Apropos of the scalloped arcades added to Koechlin’s naked pylon, Frédéric Seitz’s understated description is apt: “the construction lines were embellished with some decorations characteristic of the end of the nineteenth century.”21 Did Gustave Eiffel dream up the ornamented promenade? No. The engineers Koechlin and Nouguier, originators of the metal pylon, were joined by the architect Stephen Sauvestre.22 As Michel Lyonnet du Moutier observed, “it is true that the first working drawing was not very attractive,” and it was Sauvestre that gave the tower an aesthetic form.23 Sauvestre’s scalloped promenoir, ignored by many onlookers, was however found extraordinary by some, as in this vivid description, whose author was smitten by the effects of gas light on the arches of the first level:

Below, all around, the gallery or promenoir presents itself facing out as a succession of loggias, of gracious arcades. The tympana of the arcades are gilt latticework in the shape of fans, of which the lines start from a light colonnette. The vertical separations between the loggias are up to date with cabochons in carnelian crystal. Behind the cabochons are gas flames. They are many sparkling columns on the days of illumination. On those days when the lines of fire follow the major lines of the monument, one is very aware of the artistic value of this cyclopean conception.24

It was, then, the trio of Nouguier, Koechlin and Sauvestre that drew up the project that was submitted to and won the competition. It was an elaboration of the uncompromisingly minimalist pylon of 1884. Daniel Le Comte emphasizes the importance of the decoration, but overstates Eiffel’s role: “he had to add decoration to get it accepted. Thanks to the ornament, Eiffel eliminated his competitors.”25 Apparently the stonework pedestals out of which the Tower’s legs emerge with staggering torsion, the monumental arches that link the columns and the first level, a bulb-shaped campanile for the top, and the lacework of the first platform were all attributable to Stephen Sauvestre. Insisting on the singularity of the Eiffel Tower, as many have done, conceals the fact that Sauvestre’s ornament synched up with the vocabulary of many stone and metal structures of the era. The scalloped iron mini portals of the original first platform (fig. 1), the work of Sauvestre, were akin to architectural ornament fashioned by Jacques-Ignace Hittorf (e.g. on the interior of St. Vincent de Paul, Paris, 1844). They also echoed the stylized floral metal ornament that bestrides the crest of the rooftops of Notre Dame de Paris (fig. 6) designed by Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc between 1845 and 1868.

Fig. 6. Notre Dame de Paris, View from Tower with Chimeras and Gargoyles, ca. 1865–1886. Albumen print, 26.5 x 37.7 cm. Cornell University Library, Artstor.

As Eiffel himself pointed out in 1900, the arches that linked the uprights were purely decorative, performing no functional work whatsoever.26 Assuming (wrongly), like everyone else, that the most surprising aspects of the Tower’s form were Eiffel’s exclusively, T. J. Clark was actually paying tribute to the extraordinary Sauvestre when he observed in a 1975 classroom lecture I heard and never forgot: “The moment of torsion, of maximum stress, is displayed above ground. No trained architect of the nineteenth century before this would ever have dared to show the stress and strain in his work in quite such a graphic way.”27

With Sauvestre’s elegant and intricate ironwork in mind, we confront a puzzling aspect of the Tower’s reception. Why were its jewel-like enhancements ignored by so many observers and artists? Why did a Pylon Gestalt or Pylon Vision shape and deform the perception of so many onlookers?

Condemnations of the Tower

The Tower needed state sanction because Eiffel’s daring structure was condemned more than lionized until the post-World War II era.28  While twenty-first-century tourist literature spins the sight and the experience of the Tower as sources of joy, artists and writers protested plans for the Tower even as it was being built. The most prominent condemnation was the 1887 “Protestation des artistes,” which ran in Le Temps (14 February) as a petition to Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand, the Director of Public Works and Commissioner of the 1889 Exposition. It was signed by luminaries of the art establishment including Charles Gounod, Charles Garnier, Albert Wolff, Guy de Maupassant, Alexander Dumas fils, and the painters William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Ernest Meissonier.29 Xenophobia certainly ungirded their attack; among their stinging accusations was this barb: “…the Eiffel tower, which even the commercial America itself would not want, is, do not doubt it, the dishonor of Paris.”30 But the governing trope of their brief against Eiffel’s structure is often forgotten. Their vision of the Tower’s eventual appearance was that it would be a “gigantic and black factory chimney.”31 The naysayers selected a poor metaphor in view of the iron structure’s eventual manifold ornamental flourishes not to mention the monument’s transparency.32 But its function as the return of the repressed in the sphere of banished smoky industry cannot be undervalued. An unidentified humorous illustrator moved against the deeply entrenched factory chimney trope in a hilarious fashion (fig. 7). “Indiscrétions sur l’Exposition,” imagines the Tower as a Rococo candelabrum. The caption reads: “Until now tasteful folks saw in it only a formidable factory chimney or a pretentious scaffolding. Wait for the judge: the current structure is covered with morsels of artistic decoration of the purest Rococo style.” Indeed Sauvestre’s decorations, while not Rococo per se, were elaborate versions of familiar and widespread late nineteenth-century architectural decoration and highly visible as a result. Except to those determined not to see it: those blinded by Pylon Vision.

Fig. 7. “Indiscrétions sur l’Expostion. La Tour Eiffel telle qu’elle sera lors de son complet achèvement le 1er mai,” La Caricature 486 (20 April 1889): 124.

Some signatories of the protest letter later recanted, but others continued to resist the completed Tower, among them Maupassant, who hated it so much that he often ate lunch in the Tower’s second floor restaurant, the only point in the city where he couldn’t see “this tall skinny pyramid of iron ladders, this giant and disgraceful skeleton.”33 His disdain grew apace. In 1890, reflecting an economy already awash in souvenir reproductions, he averred: “I left Paris and even France, because the Eiffel Tour bored me too much. Not only does one see it everywhere, but one finds it everywhere, made of all known materials, exposed in all the windows, inevitable and torturing nightmare.”34 The 1887 artists’ protest had predicted that the Tower would overshadow Notre-Dame, the Sainte-Chapelle, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dôme of the Invalides, and the Arc de Triomphe: “all our monuments humiliated, all our architecture dwarfed, that will disappear in this stupefying dream.”35 Composer Erik Satie snidely indicted worries of this sort: “Our personal information permits us to affirm that there will be a Universal Exhibition in the middle of the year 1889. But you will not see it, because of the Eiffel Tower.”36

Edmond de Goncourt, sharp-tongued wit, was pointed and cruel: “you couldn’t dream of anything more ugly to the eye of an old civilized onlooker (or an old civilization).”37 J.-K. Huysmans also disdained the Tower. In his essay, “Le Fer (Iron),” he used the imagery of rebarbative industry when he wrote: “its tower resembles a factory chimney under construction.”38 Those who were smitten by the Tower in the immediate aftermath of its opening (31 May), also deployed the descriptive and metaphorical language of industry but with positive connotations. Louis Gonse, editor-in-chief of the Gazette des Beaux Arts, for example, wrote a paean to the new structure calling it “the industrial masterpiece of this century of iron.”39 And besotted by its interaction with the elements, he opined: “Its aerial figure dominates Paris without crushing it; one sees it from everywhere, with its looks varying with the clouds and the hours of the day, sometimes light, grey and faded, like a lighthouse drowning in the fog, or manly and hard when the wind blows and its summit is plunged into a cloud, sometimes flushed by the rays of the setting sun, or rose and transparent under the caresses of the light of dawn.”40

Visitors liked mounting the Tower right from the start. They voted loudly in favor with their feet. Over the seven-month duration of the exhibition—15 May to 6 November—1,953,122 people visited the Tower; an average of 11,800 per day.41 Whether it remained visitable between 1889 and 1900 and on what terms remain open questions—the subject of another essay—but it lost popularity in 1900 vis-à-vis its debut season. In 1900 (compared to 1889) there were 51 percent fewer visitors to the Tower. And there were other signs of a lessening of interest: fewer Tower shaped souvenirs were sold. Moreover, its unconcealed metal, all that ornament notwithstanding, made it an anachronism in 1900. According to Henri Loyrette, it compared badly to the high-profile masonry building of the moment including the classicizing stone and glass of the Gare d’Orsay and the Grand Palais.42 Between 1901 and 1914, attendance figures declined precipitously with no more than 120,000 to 260,000 visitors per year.43

Artists and the Tower

After the “Protest” of 1887, no “official” painter nor any members of the young Impressionist school drew inspiration from the Eiffel Tower.

Frédéric Seitz, 200144

Seitz was right to note the Tower’s absence from the artwork of the Impressionist vanguard, which was not however a “young” school in Paris in 1889. Period graphic images—both commercial prints and photographs—often however examined the structural complexity of the Tower’s crisscrossing iron members on the interior (fig. 8, for example). And some aesthetically progressive painters and printmakers were interested in the monument’s exterior.45 The history of painting prior to 1910 has not yielded a parallel to figure 8, but the words of Paul Gauguin, lithographs by Henri Rivière (figs. 9 through 12), and a small painting by Georges Seurat (fig. 13) as glossed by Meyer Schapiro engaged with related formal issues.46 Henri Loyrette was nonetheless justified in observing, presumably with Robert Delaunay’s Tower-centric paintings in mind, that the eventual “pictorial glory” of the Tower coincided with the decline of its fortune; when it was neither an object of controversy nor yet a mythic symbol.47

Fig. 8. “La Tour Eiffel,” Champs de Mars, Exposition Universelle 1889: Construction, Inauguration, Vues Générales, album. Cabinet des Estampes, BnF, Paris.

Paul Gauguin paid close attention to Eiffel’s decorative use of iron. In his very first published writing, “Notes on Art at the Universal Exhibition” of July 1889, the artist recognized that the exhibition was “the triumph of iron, not only with regard to machines, but also with regard to architecture. And yet architecture is at its beginnings, in that, as an art, it lacks a style of decoration consistent with the material which architecture uses.”48 Only in the Eiffel Tower “to some extent” did he find some examples of the “ornamental bolts, iron cornices extending beyond the main line, a sort of Gothic lacework of iron.”49 Gauguin’s response is notable in light of my effort to demonstrate that an acknowledgement of the Tower’s Gothic lacework of iron was rare indeed.

Henri Rivière, shadow-theater artist at the Chat Noir cabaret in Montmartre and innovative photographer of the Tower under construction, deserves the spotlight because his art struggled complexly to capture the improbability and novelty of the structure designed by Eiffel and his associates. A number of his lithographs seem to have explicitly sought to figure uneasiness at the sight of the Tower, or at least a strong sense of the monument’s impertinent clash with its surroundings. His japoniste prints, Trente-Six Vues de la Tour Eiffel, published in 1902, were based on the work of Utagawa Hiroshige plus his own visit to and photographs of the Tower under construction in 1888.50

In Vue 5 (fig. 9), “Rue Beethoven,” a looming background cross-section of the lacy volumetric structure, sliced just above and below the first platform, contrasts sharply and uncomfortably with the scale and forms of a consummate example of “Vieux Paris” in the foreground: a street in the sixteenth arrondissement inhabited by the poor.51 (Because the lithographs are inked uniformly in monochrome plus some brown-yellows, there was no way to show the red color of the painted Tower.) The lithograph conjures the appearance of Old Paris via old-fashioned partially ruined buildings on a modest stone thoroughfare (albeit separated from the Tower by a Haussmannian apartment building), and defines its provincial social life by the quotidian timelessness and modesty of laundry strung across the street, chickens pecking the ground, and one conversation between a modestly dressed woman and man on the old pavement.52 Vue 31 (fig. 10), “Du Quai de Passy – Charbonniers,” makes the case for visual incommensurability in even stronger terms by staging a clash between the pale silhouette of the flattened symmetrical metal structure at center, avatar of technical modernity, and a dark silhouette of traditional labor, worker plus horse and cart collecting wood to burn into charcoal. It is hard to ignore the violence of the black diagonal tool at the very center of the sheet that slices up into the decorated promenade of the first floor of the Tower. More striking still is the alert standing pose of the hyper legible worker on the cart which seems meant to register his feeling threatened as he looks at and recoils from the iron giant in the near distance.

Fig. 9. Henri Rivière, Vue 5, “Rue Beethoven,” Les Trente-Six Vues de la Tour Eiffel (Paris: Eugène Verneau, 1902).
Fig. 10. Henri Rivière, Vue 31, “Du Quai de Passy – Charbonniers,” Les Trente-Six Vues de la Tour Eiffel(Paris: Eugène Verneau, 1902).

Two of Rivière’s lithographs, the railway-centric “Du Quai de Javel (baraque d’aiguilleur),” (Vue 28, fig. 11) and his symphony of chimneys, “Vue des toits,” (Vue 21, fig. 12) exemplify what I have named “Pylon Vision.” Vue 28 cleverly aligns the Tower with a cluster of cognate vertical instrumental forms, chimneys and a railway signal, endeavoring cheekily to assimilate the Tower to a world of pure industrial shape and utility. Vue 21 is a bit more complicated: its choreographed forest of wobbling and angular black-grey chimneys serves to stress the regularity of the surface of Eiffel’s distant faded tower. Eiffel himself shared this vision of the industrial non-decorative character of the Tower when he wrote, “It is only the progress of science and the art of the engineer, and that of metallurgic industry that distinguishes the end of our century, through which we have been able to overcome the path trod by older generations by the construction of this Tower which will be one of the characteristics of modern industry, because it [modern industry] alone rendered it possible.”53

Fig. 11. Henri Rivière, Vue 28, “Du Quai de Javel (baroque d’aiguilleur),” Les Trente-Six Vues de la Tour Eiffel (Paris: Eugène Verneau, 1902).
Fig. 12. Henri Rivière, Vue 21, “Vue des toits,” Les Trente-Six Vues de la Tour Eiffel (Paris: Eugène Verneau, 1902).

Meyer Schapiro responded fluently to color in art. His eloquent 1955 discussion of Georges Seurat’s small 1889 oil painting (fig. 13) argues for a close bond between the forms of the Tower and Seurat’s divided strokes:

In painting the Tower in 1889, even before it was completed, Seurat took a stand on an object of intense dispute among artists at the time. The enemies of the Tower included writers like Huysmans who saw in it only the Notre Dame de la Brocante—a vulgar assertion of the power of industry and trade. For Seurat the tower was a congenial work of art of which he had anticipated the forms in his own painting. Its clean, graceful silhouette has an unmistakable affinity with the lines of the trombonist in his Side Show and the central nude in the Models. Besides, the construction of this immense monument out of small exposed parts, each designed for its place, and forming together out of the visible crisscross and multiplicity of elements a single airy whole of striking simplicity and elegance of shape, was not unlike his own art with its summation of innumerable tiny units into a large clear form which retained the aspect of immaterial lightness evident in the smaller parts. In its original state the Tower was closer to Seurat’s art than it is today; for the iron structure was coated with several shades of iridescent enamel paint—the poet Tailhade called it the “speculum-Eiffel.” If the identity of the painter of Seurat’s pictures were unknown, we could call him appropriately the Master of the Eiffel Tower.54

Fig. 13. Georges Seurat, La Tour Eiffel, 1889. Oil on panel, 24 x 15.2 cm. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

While Schapiro did not see the Tower’s Gothic lacework of iron in the canvas, though he did acknowledge the orange-red of the original structure, I would argue that Seurat did. There is an unmistakable delineation of the scallops that comprised Sauvestre’s first platform, but the strokes are begrudging in their acknowledgement of volume and depth. His use of royal blue and saturated rose creates the illusion of a cast shadow, but the promenoir scallops themselves are flattened and generalized. The fact remains, following Schapiro’s argument, that there was an undeniable synchronicity between the fashioning of the Tower out of so many identical prefabricated iron parts riveted together and Seurat’s painstaking fashioning of the structure out of many separate orange, red and complementary blue-mauve strokes.55

If we do not attend to Seurat’s response to the Tower’s horizontal tier of ornament, albeit delicate and very slight, it would seem that Seurat seen through the lens of Schapiro anticipated the extremely certain assessment of contemporary German art historian Hubertus Kohle, who has very recently written this about the Tower with specific interest in arguing that it was openly democratic and egalitarian: “The monument is formed from myriad prefabricated elements that are more or less identical; an edifice is borne from this accumulation that, in the eyes of classicism, is a simple collection of elements. There is no structural hierarchy in the tower subordinating elements as a function of their location whether at the center or the periphery.”56

Fascinatingly for our purposes, Kohle’s text exemplifies Pylon Vision and resonates importantly with Schapiro’s admiring characterization of Seurat’s multi-partite construction in paint. Pylon Vision has unfortunately dominated the discussion and the perception of the Eiffel Tower for generations. While Sauvestre’s elegant ornament was removed and discarded by those in charge in 1937 in order to enhance the modernism and modernity of its profile, contemporary students of the Tower’s reputation need to put it back.

Coda: Factories and the Eiffel Tower in 1900

Paul Signac, erstwhile comrade of Seurat, represented the Tower from a distance repeatedly in the 1890s (fig. 14). Rather than grappling with the specificities of the iron forms of the monument itself, he drew back to emphasize the environmental and visual impact of the industrialization of the district across the river from the Champ de Mars. Signac straightforwardly depicted the area surrounding the Pont de Grenelle as chock-a-block with factory chimneys producing dark smoke. The next year, Félix Thiollier photographed belching smokestacks on the very grounds of the World’s Fair (fig. 15). An unintended but vivid consequence of this pattern of representation, ca. 1900, is to lay to rest once and for all the old late 1880s metaphor that endlessly likened the impertinent new Eiffel Tower to a factory chimney. Once industry and its smoking factory chimneys dug in and proliferated not far from the river across from the Champ de Mars, the Eiffel Tower must have looked lacey, crisp, fastidiously adorned, intricately crafted, trim, and transparent as never before.

Fig. 14. Paul Signac, Pont de Grenelle, 1899. Oil on canvas, 62 x 78.5 cm. Collection Sigurd Frosterus, Amos Anderson Art Museum, Helsinki.
Fig. 15. Félix Thiollier, Exposition Universelle 1900, 1900. Gelatin silver print, 29.2 x 40 cm, Clark Art Institute, 2007.15.11.


I am indebted to the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA, Washington D.C.) and l’Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA, Paris) for their support of my research on the Eiffel Tower. And I want to thank Rob Linrothe, C.C. McKee, Aisha Motlani, and especially Marnin Young for their guidance and assistance. The essay’s shortcomings are however mine alone.
1. Writings on the Eiffel Tower are voluminous. See my compilation and annotation of the literature: “The Eiffel Tower,” in Oxford Bibliographies in Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, ed. Kevin Murphy (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming). The question of whether the Tower was meant to survive, unlike the vast majority of World’s Fair structures, is a complex one. The ownership of and right to exploit the Tower “maintained in good condition” passed from Eiffel to the City of Paris after twenty years (from the date 1 January 1890). Michel Lyonnet du Moutier, L’Aventure de la Tour Eiffel. Realisation et financement (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2009), 57. See Fonds Eiffel ARO 1981 1239, Convention rélative à la Tour Eiffel, 8 janvier 1887, article 11. The initiatives to get it torn down in the twentieth century, undermined each time by successful salvation campaigns, are covered in detail in Frédéric Seitz, La Tour Eiffel: Cent ans de solicitude (Paris: Belin-Herscher, 2001).
2. Even the prior Colossus of Paris, Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty, during its late 1870s audition in the French capital, did not prepare Parisians for the Giant of 1889. See François Keriouégan, “Un colosse dans le ciel de Paris,”Le Magasin du XIXe siècle 5 (2015): 293-297. Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby’s account emphasizes the Eiffel Tower’s engineering form as well as its enormous size and emptiness: “The job of the Eiffel Tower was to make visible the engineering needed to erect a structure more colossal in size than any in the world.” Grigsby, “Eiffel’s Emptiness: Volume/Mass,” Colossal: Engineering the Suez Canal, Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, and Panama Canal – Transcontinental Ambition in France and the United States during the Long Nineteenth Century (Pittsburgh: Periscope, 2012), 106.
3. On the Eiffel Tower’s fin-de-siècle twin, the Blackpool Tower, 1891–1894, see Paul Dobraszczyk, Iron, Ornament and Architecture in Victorian Britain: Myth and Modernity, Excess and Enchantment (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014), 176-7.
4. Vanessa R. Schwartz, Modern France: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 64; Philip J. Ethington and Vanessa R. Schwartz, “Introduction: an atlas of the urban icons project,” Urban History 33, no. 1 (2006): 14 and 17.
5. Roland Barthes, La Tour Eiffel (Paris: Delpire, 1964). The Eiffel Tower and other mythologies, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1979), 5. “There is virtually no Parisian glance it fails to touch at some time of day… The Tower is also present to the entire world,” 3.  Patrice Higonnet called it “purposeful without purpose.” Patrice Higonnet, Paris: Capital of the World (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 359. Vanessa Schwartz avers that “the tower served little purpose other than to be seen and visited.” Modern France, 101.
6. Joseph Harriss, The Tallest Tower: Eiffel and the Belle Époque (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975), 195. I discussed the 1937 transformation with Stéphane Dieu, Responsible du service de valorisation du fonds patrimonial et du service documentation, SETE (Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel), in his Paris office, 4 May 2018. He has no idea what became of those massive pieces of iron.
7. André Granet, the designer of the Tower’s dazzling 1937 lighting, justified the modification by characterizing the outmodedness of the Tower’s decoration somewhat snidely: “Indiscutable dans sa forme purement rationnelle, elle avait été surchargé à sa naissance de décors qui marquaient un peu trop leur époque et qui avaient été une concession aux clameurs de moment.” (“Of an indisputably purely rational form, it was encumbered at its birth with decoration that marked its epoch a bit excessively, and which was a concession to the complaints of the moment.”) André Granet, Décors Éphémères: Les Expositions, Jeux d’Eau et de Lumière (Paris: E. Desfossés, 1948), 21.
8. As the word “monument” shows up again and again in this text, it is time to ask: is monument the right term for the Eiffel Tower? The Tower’s jarring visibility may disqualify it as a monument. It should be vetted for suitability through the lenses of Alois Riegl and Robert Musil. Alois Riegl, “The Modern Cult of Monuments: Its Character and Its Origin,” trans. Kurt W. Forster and Diane Ghirardo, Oppositions (Fall 1982): 25, 21-51; and Robert Musil, “Monuments,” in Selected Writings, ed. and trans. Burton Pike (New York: Continuum, 1986), 320-323.
9. Harriss, Tallest Tower, 215. Alexander Geppert notes that between 1901 and 1914, the Tower’s attendance figures fell to a historical low. Things changed not long before Malraux’s gesture. “The Tower’s popularity increased with the expositions of 1925, 1931 and 1937, but it was not until the end of the Second World War that a process of codification set in, eventually transforming it into the very symbol of modernity.” Alexander Geppert, Fleeting Cities: Imperial Expositions in Fin-de-Siècle Europe (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 227.
10. “Nothing can compare to the loneliness of the soul in adolescence. I remember my first visit to Paris in 1964; I was eighteen. … I was lonely even among those who befriended me. Remembering those weeks now, I realize that I never went upwards—the Eiffel Tower seemed an absurd, and absurdly popular, structure—but I did go down.” Julian Barnes, Levels of Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013), 121-2.
11. Period debates about iron ornament are carefully handled in Dobraszczyk, “Introduction: Ornament Unbound,” in Iron Ornament and Architecture, 1-27.
12. Henri Loyrette stated that Napoléon III banished industry from the capital in 1859 when he divided the city into twenty arrondissements and “relegated factories to the suburbs.” Henri Loyrette, “The Eiffel Tower,” Realms of Memory, vol. 3: Symbols, ed. Pierre Nora and Laurence D. Kritzman (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 356. Grigsby cites Loyrette when she states: “… industry was banished to the outskirts of Paris in 1860.” Grigsby, Colossal, 106. Robert Tombs helpfully modifies this assertion by noting it was the tax on coal that was increased at this moment, and that made industry inside the city more expensive. Hence the move of much heavy industry outside the city. Robert Tombs, email message, 30 November 2018.
13. Certain practitioners of the social history of art in the 1970s and 1980s became preoccupied by the effects of the erasure of industry in the northwest suburbs by Impressionist landscapists, especially Monet. See, for example, Paul Hayes Tucker, Monet at Argenteuil (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982); and T. J. Clark, “The Environs of Paris,” The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984). I am stressing the other side, as it were: the spectacle of the encroachment and pollution of industry and its factories surrounding Paris, especially northwest of the Tower across the Seine, as the screen (both literal and imagined) through and upon which the new 300-meter Tower was seen and evaluated. See Véronique Alemany et al., Peindre la banlieue: De Corot à Vlaminck, 1850–1950 (Colombelle: Éditions du Valhermeil, 2016); and Geneviève Massard-Guilbaud, Histoire de la pollution industrielle. France, 1789–1914 (Paris: Éditions de l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, 2010). This statement, for example, suggests a rising tide of worry about visual pollution: “À partir du dernier tiers du XIXe siècle, des peintres présentent un visage négatif, jusqu’à être lugubre, de la banlieue périphérique de Paris: une mise en garde contre les méfaits de l’industrialisation croissante sur la pollution visuelle du paysage naturel et contre la déshumanisation des conditions de vie.” (Alemany, 92) Vanguard painters’ inclusion of factory chimneys outside the city limits is discussed in James H. Rubin, Impressionism and the Modern Landscape: Productivity, Technology, and Urbanization from Manet to Van Gogh (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 132-147.
14. “un tuyau d’usine en construction.” J.-K. Huysmans, “Le Fer,” in Certains (Paris: Tresse et Stock, 1889), 174. This is attributed to Jules Simon by Grigsby, 106, but without a source. It is thus unclear whether this is Jules Simon, influential member of the French Senate, or the author of a guide to the Eiffel Tower, Guide illustré de la Tour Eiffel, 1893, also quoted by Grigsby, 17.
15. Answers to the question “why a tower?” will not be reviewed here, except to note that many period voices interpreted it as an explicit and over-sized expression of national resurgence and well-being eighteen years after the French defeat by the Prussians. See Louis Devance, Gustave Eiffel: La construction d’une carrière d’ingénieur (Dijon: Editions Universitaires de Dijon, collection Histoires, 2016), 173-191; and Daniel Le Comte, La Tour de Gustave Eiffel (Paris: Éditions du Sénevé, 1969), 4 ff. Eiffel signed the contract on 8 January 1887. Other entries were formidable. Jules Bourdais’s design for a giant classicizing stone light tower (Bourdais had designed the clou of the 1878 fair, Le Palais de Trocadéro, with Gabriel Davioud) was the other most highly-regarded (and vigorously supported) entry. A 984-foot guillotine to commemorate the opening of the Estates General (5 May 1789) was also arresting. Another good overview of the competition is Barry Bergdoll, “Introduction,” in The Eiffel Tower: Photographs by Lucien Hervé (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003), 7-16.
16. Kirk Savage is the indispensable source on the American “mechanic monster,” as its detractors called it. He argues that “the Washington Monument was a critical—and mostly unacknowledged—step in the development of a modern spatial sensibility.” Kirk Savage, Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 133. The Eiffel Tower remained the world’s tallest construction until the United States regained the title with the slightly taller Chrysler Building in New York City in 1930, displaced in turn by the Empire State Building the next year.
17. Le Comte, Tour de Gustave Eiffel, 16. And only 250 workers were involved.
18. “Painting the Eiffel Tower,” Card 12 of the English version of the toureiffel.com website brochure, All you need to know about the Eiffel Tower, highlights the importance of the 1899 repainting, https://www.toureiffel.paris/en/the-monument/painting-eiffel-tower. For the record, the first coat of paint in 1889 was red iron ocher. The second and third coats were linseed oil. Painting was completed in March 1889.
19. Henri Loyrette, Eiffel – Un ingénieur et son oeuvre (Fribourg: Office du Livre, 1985), 351.
20. “Origins and Constructions of the Eiffel Tower,” www.toureiffel.paris/en/the-monument/history. And Lyonnet du Moutier, L’Aventure de la Tour Eiffel, 31. See Michelle Foa’s helpful discussion of the analogy between the Tower and a Lighthouse in the context of her discussion of Seurat’s Eiffel Tower, discussed below. I have planned a separate study of the éclairage of the Tower (in 1889 and 1900), and in it I will be returning to the parallels discussed by Foa and by Patricia Mainardi. Michelle Foa, Georges Seurat: The Art of Vision (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015), 197-203; Patricia Mainardi, “The Eiffel Tower and the English Lighthouse,” Arts Magazine 54, no. 7 (March 1980): 141-144.
21. “…les lignes constructives sont agrémentées de quelques décors caractéristiques de la fin du XIXe siècle.” Seitz, La Tour Eiffel, 47.
22. Sauvestre’s singular talent with iron ornament was showcased later in his unrealized plan for a modified Tower for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. See the proliferation of ornament as well as the flanking demi-towers in his 1896 watercolor drawing, Projet de transformation de la Tour Eiffel pour l’Exposition universelle de 1900, 102 x 75 cm. Paris, SETE. Reproduced in Caroline Mathieu, ed., Gustave Eiffel: Le Magicien du Fer (Paris: Éditions Skira Flammarion, 2009), 177. Stephen Sauvestre was an 1868 graduate of l’École Centrale d’Architecture (later called l’École Spéciale d’Architecture), created in 1865 through the influence of important figures like Henri Labrouste and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. He became well known for the design of villas and private homes (“hôtels particuliers”), such as the Hôtel Beranger, 1884, Tours. Frédéric Seitz, Une Entreprise d’Idée: L’École Spéciale d’Architecture, 1865–1930 (Paris: Editions Picard, 1995), introduction and 166.
23. “[i]l est vrai que la première épure n’est pas très attractive.” Lyonnet du Moutier, L’Aventure de la Tour Eiffel, 31.
24. “Au-dessus, tout autour, la galerie ou promenoir se présente extérieurement comme une succession de loggias à arcades gracieuses. Les tympans de ces arcades sont en treillis dorés disposes en éventail, dont les lignes partent d’une légere colonnette. Les entre-deux verticaux qui séparent les loggias sont à jour, avec des cabochons en cristal de cornaline. Derrière ces cabochons un bec de gaz. Si bien que ce sont autant de colonnes étincelantes les jours d’illumination. Comme ces jours-là les lignes de feu suivent les grandes lignes du monument, on se rend compte de la valeur artistique de cette conception cyclopéenne.” Guide Officiel de la Tour Eiffel (Paris: Imprimerie Chaix, 1897), 15.
25. “[I]l faudra lui adjoindre une ornamentation pour lui faire accepter. Grace à cette ornamentation, Eiffel élimine ses concurrents.” Le Comte, Tour de Gustave Eiffel, 8.
26. “Des arcs de 74 m. de diamètre se développent entre les montants à l’étage inférieur mais leur role est purement decoratif.” Gustave Eiffel, La Tour Eiffel/The Eiffel Tower: extraits de la tour en 1900 (Paris: editions Masson, 1902), 22.
27. Author’s notes, T. J. Clark, Art 54, UCLA, 24 April 1975.
28. See the discussion of the Tower’s reputational downs and ups in William Thompson, “‘The Symbol of Paris’: Writing the Eiffel Tower,” The French Review 73, no. 6 (May 2000): 1130-40.
29. “Les artistes contre La Tour Eiffel,” lettre ouverte addressee à M. Alphand, commissaire de l’Exposition, Le Temps, 14 février 1887, quoted in English in Joëlle Bolloch, The Eiffel Tower (Paris: Musée d’Orsay and Milan: Five Continents, 2005), 13.
30. “Car la tour Eiffel, dont la commerciale Amérique elle-même ne voudrait pas, c’est, n’en doutez point, le déshonneur de Paris,” “Les artistes contre La Tour Eiffel,” quoted in Collectif, La Tour Eiffel vue par les écrivains (Paris: Nouvelles éditions Scala, 2016), 7.
31. “Gigantesque et noire cheminée d’usine.” ibid.
32. Deborah Silverman put it best: “This spectacular iron tower, constructed on the very principle of the interpenetration of inner and outer space, effected a dazzling spatial dematerialization.” Deborah Silverman, “The 1889 Exhibition: The Crisis of Bourgeois Individualism,” Oppositions 8 (Spring 1977): 88.
33. Guy de Maupassant as quoted in Barthes, Eiffel Tower, 3.
34. “J’ai quitté Paris et même la France, parce que la tour Eiffel finissait par m’ennuyer trop. Non seulement on la voyait de partout, mais on la trouvait partout, faite de toutes les matières connues, exposée à toutes les vitres, cauchemar inévitable et torturant.” Maupassant, “Lassitude” (1890) in La Vie errante, 1903, quoted in Collectif, La Tour Eiffel vue par les écrivains, 27. As an early comment on the burgeoning business in Tower souvenirs, it cannot be improved upon. Eiffel, by the way, thanks to a court case, maintained a monopoly on Tower souvenir production, sales and profits. On souvenirs and postcards, see Caroline Mathieu et PhilippeThiébault, La Tour Eiffel. Curiosités et autres babioles autour de 1900exh. cat. (Paris: Musée d’Orsay; Skira Flammarion, 2009); and Naomi Schor, “‘Cartes Postales’: Representing Paris 1900,” Critical Inquiry 18, no. 2 (Winter 1992): 188-244.
35. “tous nos monuments humiliés, toutes nos architectures rapetissées, qui disparaîtront dans ce rêve stupéfiant.” Quoted in Collectif, La Tour Eiffel vue par les écrivains, 7.
36. “Nos renseignments personnels nous permettent d’affirmer qu’il y aura une Exposition universelle, vers le milieu de l’année 1889. Mais on ne la verra pas, à cause de la Tour Eiffel…” Erik Satie, “Pronostics pour l’année 1889,” La Lanterne japonaise, 22 décembre 1888, quoted in La Tour Eiffel vue par les écrivains, 12.
37. “on ne peut rêver quelque chose de plus laid pour l’oeil d’un vieux civilisé.” Edmond de Goncourt, Journal: memoires de la vie litteraire. Tome 3: 1879–1990, (Paris: Fasquelle et Flammarion, 1956), 935.
38. “sa tour ressemble à un tuyau d’usine en construction.” Huysmans, “Le Fer,” 174.  
39. Louis Gonse, “Exposition Universelle de 1889 : Coup d’œil avant l’ouverture,”Gazette des Beaux-Arts1, 3rd period, no. 5 (1 May 1889): 356.
40. “On se souvient des méfiances, des critiques et des protestations qui ont accueilli, à ses débuts, la construction de la Tour Eiffel ; tout cela est bien loin. L’œuvre est là, triomphante, ‘chef-d’œuvre industriel de ce siècle de fer’. Sa silhouette aérienne domine Paris sans l’écraser; on la voit de partout, variant d’aspect avec les éclairages et les heures du jour, tantôt légère, grise et estompée, comme un phare noyé dans la brume, ou male et rude quand souffle le vent et que son sommet plonge dans la nuée, tantôt empourprée par les rayons du soleil couchant, ou rose et transparente sous les caresses matinales de l’aube.” Gonse, “Exposition Universelle,” 355-56.
41. Henri Loyrette, Gustave Eiffel (New York: Rizzoli, 1985), 162.
42. Ibid., 167.
43. Geppert, Fleeting Cities, 227.
44.  “Après la Protestationde 1887, aucun peintre “officiel” ni aucun des membres de la jeune école impressionniste ne tirent inspiration de la Tour Eiffel.” Frédéric Seitz, La Tour Eiffel: Cent ans de solicitude (Paris: Belin-Herscher, 2001), 94.
45. In addition to works discussed here, Henri Rousseau (le Douanier) included the Tower in wiry miniature in the middle ground of his 1890 self-portrait, Moi-même, portrait paysage, Prague, Narodni Galerie, and it figured in one of Camille Pissarro’s Turpitudes Sociales, “Le Capital,” 1889–1890, aligned with the greed of capitalism.
46. The explosive and remarkable Eiffel Tower paintings by Robert Delaunay—the Tower was at the heart of all four of his series (1909–1914)—are not discussed here because my focus falls on pictorial responses closest in time to the completion of the monument. The key analyses are Mark Rosenthal, Visions of Paris: Robert Delaunay’s Series, exh. cat. (New York: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1997); and Gordon Hughes, Resisting Abstraction: Robert Delaunay and Vision in the Face of Modernism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014).
47. Henri Loyrette, “Images de la Tour Eiffel (1884–1914),” in 1889: La Tour Eiffel et l’Exposition Universelle, ed. Caroline Mathieu (Paris: Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1989), 196-219.
48. Paul Gauguin, “Notes on Art at the Universal Exhibition (July 1889),” in The Writings of a Savage, ed. Daniel Guerin, trans. Eleanor Levieux (New York: Viking Press, 1978), 28. Quoted in John A. Kouwenhoven, “The Eiffel Tower and the Ferris Wheel,” Arts Magazine 54, no. 6 (February 1980): 173.
49. Ibid.
50. François Fossier, Françoise Heilbrun and Philippe Néagu, Henri Rivière graveur et photographe, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée d’Orsay, 1988); Valerie Sueur-Hermel, Henri Rivière. Entre impressionisme et japonisme (Paris: BnF, 2009); Armond Fields, Henri Rivière (Paris: Éditions Hubschmid et Bouret, 1985), 42-43; for his own account see Henri Rivière, Les Détours du Chemin, Souvenirs Notes et Croquis, 1864–1951 (Paris: Éditions Équinox, 2004), 68; and the replica, Henri Rivière, Les Trente-Six Vues de la Tour Eiffel, Paris (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2011), which contains James A. Ganz and Karin Breuer, “Postface: Une création en hommage à la Tour,” 93-105.
51. See Ruth Fiori, L’Invention de Vieux Paris. Naissance d’une conscience patrimoniale dans la capitale (Paris: MARDAGA, 2012).
52. See the 1911 revisitation of the same scenario also titled “Rue Beethoven,” in the etching by Ernest Herscher in his Souvenirs du Paris d’hier (Paris: Société de Propagation des Livres d’Art, 1911).
53. “Ce n’est que par les progrès de la science et de l’art de l’ingénieur, et par ceux de l’industrie métallurgique qui distinguent la fin de notre siècle, que nous avons pu dépasser dans cette voie les générations anciennes par la construction de cette Tour qui sera l’une des caractéristiques de l’industrie moderne, puisqu’elle seule l’a rendue possible.” Gustave Eiffel quoted in François Guillaume Dumas and Louis de Fourcaud, “La Tour Eiffel,” Revue de L’Exposition Universelle de 1889, vol. 1 (Paris: Motteroz L. Baschet [1889]), 44.
54. Meyer Schapiro, “Seurat,” in Modern Art 19th& 20thCenturies: Selected Papers (New York: George Braziller, 1978), 107.
55. Christoph Becker, the director of the Kunsthaus Zürich, restated Schapiro’s argument in less subtle language but along the same lines. “[Seurat’s] analytical spirit foresaw the tower as an extraordinary engineering achievement, a triumph of precise science. But more than that—the sky-high structure also had the potential to present this technical achievement in a novel aesthetic way. It bore all the marks of a symbol. It is not in the least surprising that Seurat’s interest was fired, He acted quickly. He made the symbolic structure his subject and topic by recording it in his new technique.” Becker, “Epilogue,” in Georges Seurat: Figure in Space (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2009), 138.
56. Perhaps he is discussing the post-1937 structure? But plenty of decoration remains. “Le monument est formé d’une myriade d’éléments préfabriqués plus ou moins identiques ; de cette accumulation naît un édifice qui n’en reste pas moins, aux yeux de classicisme, une simple somme d’éléments. Il n’y a en effet dans la tour plus aucune hiérarchisation structurelle subordonnant les éléments entre eux en fonction de leur place par rapport au centre et à la périphérie.” Hubertus Kohle, “La Tour Eiffel, monument commémoratif de la Révolution française,” Arts et société. Essais sur l’art français (1734–1889) (Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2009), 231-232. For another view of the republican contents of the Tower, or rather the close fit between the Tower and the larger political project of the Third Republic, see Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Paris as Revolution: Writing the Nineteenth-Century City (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 220-224.
About the Author

Hollis Clayson is Professor of Art History and Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities at Northwestern University. She has published widely on Paris-based art practices, including the French capital’s large population of artists from elsewhere. Her books include Painted Love: Prostitution in French Art of the Impressionist Era (1991), Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life Under Siege (1870-71) (2002), and Is Paris Still the Capital of the Nineteenth Century? Essays on Art and Modernity, 1850-1900 (2016), co-edited with André Dombrowski. Her newest book (2019) is Paris Illuminated: Essays on Art and Lighting in the Belle Époque. Work on the Eiffel Tower will continue alongside a new study of Cézanne’s etchings.

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