Friday, 7 October 2011

Famous gay French painter ‘seals’ France - Armenia state friendship in the very heart of Yerevan

Continuing the topic of French-Armenian relations... This morning, presidents Sarkozy and Sargsyan participated in the unveiling ceremony of Rodin’s sculpture of Jules Bastien-Lepage. The statue was France’s gift to Armenia, and was appropriately placed in France square, the very heart of downtown Yerevan, that is, in front of Opera and Liberty sq.

*source of picture -

Everyone knows Rodin. But I bet until today not many of you would have heard of French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage. Even less people, including participants of the ceremony, would be aware that this famous French painter was gay.

I have to say, this choice of gift from the French side was perhaps unintentional but considering the circumstances turned into hilarious twist to 'seal' Sarkozy’s Yerevan visit, and will forever be associated with a (prominent) display of friendship between two countries.
“This generous gift will symbolize the eternal and inviolable friendship between Armenia and France,” RA President said [...]

Mr. Sarkozy, in turn, thanked the Armenian community for its important role in his country’s life. “Long live Armenia, long live France, long live brotherhood!” he said. (source)
Jules Bastien-Lepage joined gay Armenian icons Parajanov, Charents & co as a must-see landmark for art loving locals and tourists, and could be added to an itinerary of gay travel agencies.

On surface, Yerevan is enhancing its reputation as a host of queer culture representation of world-wide importance.

Now, if only individuals and society manage to catch up...


Anonymous said...

It says nothing about Julien's sexuality in wikipedia. I didn't manage to find anything on the first page of Google by typing his name & surname and gay (and homosexual later)... censorship or what???

artmika said...

I don't know the reasons but you are right, his sexuality was not publicised widely but is a known fact in French art circles. I first learned about him several years ago when I was in Paris. The only place in Wikipedia that suggests him being gay is the category "LGBT people from France":

շուշան ավագյան said...

perhaps another hint can be found in the following passage (quoting from the wiki):

He died in Paris in 1884, when planning a new series of rural subjects. His friend, Prince Bojidar Karageorgevitch, [3] was with him at the end and wrote, "At last he was unable to work any more; and he died on the 10th of December, 1884, breathing his last in my arms. At his grave's head his mother and brother lovingly planted an apple-tree, which every spring showers down its wealth of pearly petals over the last resting-place of the great master whose loss we all mourn."

artmika said...

So true, Shushan jan. When I fist read his wiki page, the passage you quoted was as telling as it could it.