Commémorer la Saint-Barthélemy ? Le monument à Coligny de l’Oratoire du Louvre

The monument of Gaspard de Coligny erected in the rue de Rivoli in Paris in 1889, right beside the Protestant church of the Oratoire du Louvre was, until 2016, the only commemorative trace of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre to be found in Paris. And even then, it only evokes the Massacre indirectly. The monument was constructed to mark the centenary of the French Revolution, in a polemical context surrounding the sixteenth-century massacre. This article describes two models that inspired the architect and sculptor: first, the J.-S. Bailly monument (cenotaph) from 1883 commemorating the so-called “Tennis Court Oath” (1789) in the “Jeu de Paume”-court at Versailles; and, second, a canvas painted J.-B. Suvée, ordered by the monarchy in 1786 and inspired by Voltaire’s Henriade, commemorating the assassination of Coligny. The monument of Gaspard de Coligny celebrates the public figure of the admiral as a grand man of politics, even at the cost of erasing the collective dimension of the 1572 massacre.