A Stumble into Family History

Walking past a sooty exterior of a church in the Marais, Gal Pal Andy felt a calling to peek inside.  Being a firm supporter that if you are called to something you must follow, we went inside.  It was dark, cold and dreary with the exception of one spot in the rear left corner behind the altar not yet revealed to us.  But within a minute, Elizabeth came running to find Andy and me to say that there was something incredible we needed to see in the back of the church.  Wow!  We never expected to find an amazing and historically significant sculpture created by a relative of Andy and my husband!  Artist Germain Pilon created this masterpiece that sits inside this church today… lonely, but not forgotten in Saint Gervais.

According to the write-up in Saint Gervais, this piece by Germain Pilon entitled Our Lady of Pain was commissioned by Catherine de Medicis.  It was originally supposed to adorn the Rotunda of Valois at the Basilica of Saint Denis along with other works of his that are now resting in the Louvre.  Our Lady of Pain is a mysticism of the Virgin Mary, who suffered a passion parallel to her son.  The narrative states that this piece was a very innovative composition for its time; the Virgin is alone on the rock of Calvary in contrast to earlier times where she was represented with her dead son on her lap (Pieta). It goes on to say that the artist’s wonderful work in the folds of the drapes of her cloak in the hands with her fingers clutching her chest and the face in meditative look, is Germain Pilon’s way of showing the internalized suffering of the Virgin Mary.

This sculpture is considered a great masterpiece of the artist. His model in clay, the same size, is currently exhibiting at the Louvre Museum.  You can bet big bucks that we are headed to see his work in the Louvre on this next trip!  Click on Germain Pilon for a preview of his work at the Louvre.

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