Père Lachaise Cemetery: Exploring the Parisian Necropolis with Anais Grateau

Père Lachaise Cemetery: Exploring the Parisian Necropolis with Anais Grateau


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The largest cemetery in Paris, and certainly one of the most beautiful resting places in the world, Père Lachaise is a true open air sculpture museum. Explore the fascinating history of the cemetery, meet its most famous residents, learn about funerary art and enjoy deliciously gruesome anecdotes during this online stroll led by a French art historian.

Created in 1804, Père Lachaise is way more than a cemetery and the everlasting home of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Frédéric Chopin. It is also one of the most atmospheric and eerie places to visit while in the French capital. Our conversation will start with a brief history of funeral practices in France and a presentation of the circumstances that led to the creation of this burial site of a completely new kind. Indeed, for the first time in history, a graveyard became a place of promenade, where the living and the dead could coexist in harmony. While we will of course have a look at some of the most visited graves in the cemetery, we will also examine common funerary iconography and see how it tells us incredible stories about those who lie beneath.

To finish, we will leave Paris and cross the Atlantic to briefly talk about the influence of Père Lachaise on the birth of the rural cemetery movement in the US. Led by an expert in art history and Parisian monuments, Anaïs Grateau, this interactive seminar will explore the history of Père Lachaise and discuss some of its most remarkable tombstones. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of funerary art and architecture in Paris.

Anaïs Grateau is a French art historian now living in the US. She graduated from the Ecole du Louvre and worked as a curatorial assistant and as a guide for Context in Paris for many years. Since moving to Pittsburgh in 2015, she has taught art history, designing classes reflecting her areas of interest and expertise: modern and contemporary art, the representation of imaginary creatures in art, as well as the depiction of death in painting and sculpture. She is now the Preservation Coordinator for Archives and Special Collections at the University of Pittsburgh.

Not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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