In Réunion, a sculpture removed ?
On 14 June 2020, when the destruction of sculptures was in full swing, the French President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron stated: "no statue will be removed" (see this video). However, this is what the French State is about to allow to happen in Saint-Denis de la Réunion.
The work in question is a sculpture by Louis Rochet, a student of David d’Angers (ill. 1 to 4). It represents François Mahé de La Bourdonnais, dates from 1854 and was presented at the Universal Exhibition of 1855 where the artist received a third class medal. Since 1856, it has been installed in its current location, in the centre of the square next to the Hôtel de la Préfecture, in the middle of a garden called Square La Bourdonnais, which has gradually been created around this monument .
The latter has been listed as a historical monument since 14 August 2000. On 14 January 2002, its classement (the strongest protection), together with the base, the steps and the fence, was approved by the National Commission for Historic Monuments ( former name of the National Commission for Heritage and Architecture) "for its architectural and sculptural quality". The Minister of Culture at the time, Catherine Tasca, through Francis Jamot, Head of the Office for the Protection of Historic Monuments, requested that the draft classification order be sent to her before 13 May 2002, but it was never issued. We do not know why.
- 1. Louis Rochet (1813-1878)
Monument of Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais
Bronze, stone base
Saint-Denis de la Réunion, place La Bourdonnais
Photo : Thierry Caro (CC BY-SA 3.0)
- See the image in its page
The sculpture was completely covered with pink paint in October 2022 as can be seen in our photos (ill. 2 and 4), which can easily be cleaned as it is a bronze. But since then, despite the prefect’s request to the mayor of Saint-Denis, Ericka Bareigts, nothing has been done to restore it. The latter, giving in to certain associations, is now asking that this…