Contributor: Sophie Thomas
Location: Musée Bertrand, Châteauroux, France
Description: Dominique-Vivant Denon’s reliquary is both a personal collection and a portable, pan-European museum. It is a late gothic confection made of gilded copper, glass and semi-precious stone, complete with turrets and flying buttresses at each corner. Hexagonal in form, crowned with small cross atop a steeple, each of the reliquary’s two principal facades are divided into six compartments.
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Contributor: Joanna Beaufoy
Location: Paris, France
Description: ‘Temple d’amour’, a ‘Rousseau-ist rêverie’, ‘an ode to landscape art’… the small temple perched atop an artificial cliff in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont in Paris is worth the climb, so long as you are prepared for it for be closed once you get to the top.
Indeed, visitors to the Temple de la Sibylle over the last few decades have rarely seen it completely free of green and white plastic barricades, the French code for ‘keep out’. As the temple is in several ways hors-champ, there is a pleasing symbolism here. It is a celebration of the sublime within a city re-design that distanced itself from Romanticism. It is a perilous, impractical site requiring multiple restorations, but founded on the design principles of security, order and efficiency of Haussmanisation (urban destruction and rebuilding of Paris, 1853-1870). It provides a panorama over a non-æstheticised outer Paris, whereas elsewhere in the city’s redesign, citizens and visitors’ attention was carefully directed in an urban theatre of reveal/conceal to show off the most prestigious city sights. The temple feels slightly other-worldly, a celebration of the spiritual and the impossible, perhaps why still today it is a favourite meeting place for lovers.
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