‘Cambrai – The Cathedral’
The medieval cathedral at Cambrai in Northern France was regarded as one of the ‘wonders of the Low Countries’. It was sold off after the French Revolution and used as a quarry. Arras Cathedral suffered a similar fate as did the monumental cathedral in French-speaking Liege. No trace of Cambrai’s Gothic cathedral survives today. The city’s ecclesiastical status was restored in 1802 and the abbey church of St. Sulpice was used as the seat of the bishop (later the archbishop). The building was constructed between 1696 and 1703. It was damaged by fire in 1854 but subsequently restored. The cathedral was damaged yet again during World War One, as shown in the stereograph, but was restored for a second time.
‘Rue de Royale, Saint-Cloud’
Both stereographs show the damage wrought upon the town of Saint-Cloud following the Franco-Prussian War between 1870 and 1871. The town lies just six miles from the centre of Paris and was occupied by Prussian forces during the Siege of Paris. The Prussians shelled the city from Saint-Cloud and the grounds of the nearby château of the same name. The town was badly damaged and the Royal château, residence of Marie Antoinette in the 1780s, was gutted by fire and later demolished.
Château de Saint-Cloud
The stereograph shows the substantial ruins of the château at Saint-Cloud after it had been gutted by fire in 1870 but before its demolition in 1891.
‘Salon de Mercure’
The Mercury Salon was one of the rooms at the former royal château of Saint-Cloud. The château was started in 1572, expanded at the end of the 17th century and enlarged again by Marie Antoinette in the 1780s. The Mercury Salon was redecorated in the early 19th century. Its ceiling, by the history painter Jean Alaux, depicted Mercury and Pandora. The walls were hung with Gobelins tapestries copied from Reubens’ History of Marie de’ Medici cycle. The tapestry shown in the stereograph is from The Birth of the Dauphin at Fontainebleau. The château was gutted by fire in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War and the roofless shell demolished in 1891. The tapestries were presumably destroyed in the fire as I can find no evidence that they still exist. Click on ‘Saint-Cloud’ in the tag cloud to the right for more on the lost château.
The medieval cathedral Arras, believed to have been one of the most beautiful in France, was completely demolished after the French Revolution. By the 1830s it was decided that Arras once again needed a cathedral and so the old church belonging to St. Vaast’s Abbey was used. The abbey church had itself been rebuilt starting in 1778, although progress was interrupted during the Revolution. Work on the site began again in 1815 and in 1833 the church, now designated a cathedral, was completed. The building was severely damaged by artillery fire in 1914 which destroyed most of the roof, the vaults and part of the exterior. Following the end of hostilities the cathedral was reconstructed to its pre-war appearance.
Market Day in Arras
Hotel de Ville, Arras
The first stereoview shows the Place des Héros in Arras c.1900. In the background is the city’s stupendous town hall, the Hotel de Ville. Construction on the hall started in 1463 and was completed in 1554 with the addition of a 77m-high belfry. Built in the Flamboyant Gothic style, the Hotel de Ville and its belfry were destroyed by the German bombardment of Arras in 1914. The town hall was gutted by fire on 07 October. The famous belfry collapsed at around 11.20am on the morning of 21 October after suffering artillery strikes. The cathedral had already been destroyed in July. Most of the Flemish Baroque houses surrounding the Place des Héros were also destroyed along with 75% of the historic city centre. After the war the town hall and the belfry were reconstructed in reinforced concrete. Externally at least the reconstructed building was very similar to the late medieval original with only small changes made to some of the tracery and a few of the window openings. The belfry at Arras is now part of the ‘Belfries of Belgium and France’ World Heritage Site.
‘The Church – Foucaucourt’
Other than the fact that the stereograph shows a medieval church destroyed during World War One, I don’t know much else about it. There are several small communes called Foucaucourt in north-west France and the church could’ve belonged to any of them.