时间：2022-12-10 18:58:48 | 浏览：17
Less than a month before the end of World War I, a huge painting commemorating the war effort was unveiled in central Paris. Its creators wanted to honor the greatest war the world had ever seen with the greatest painting ever made, and they had spent the previous four years working on it with the help of 150 artists.
The result was the world"s largest painting at the time, set on a panoramic canvas measuring 402 feet (122 meters) around and 45 feet (13.7 meters) high. It contained over 5,000 life-size portraits of war heroes, royalty and government officials from the Allies of World War I, with France dominating the stage. The painting was so big that a custom building had to be constructed to accommodate it.
The "Panthéon de la Guerre" (meaning "Pantheon of the War") was unveiled, to great fanfare, on Oct. 19, 1918. In the century that followed, it was chopped up, auctioned off, hidden away and even stored outdoors in a crate for a decade before finding its place on the walls of the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, 4,500 miles away from the start of its unlikely journey.
Work on the painting had begun, with astonishing foresight, just a few months into the war, in the winter of 1914. The idea came from two French artists with previous experience in panoramas, Pierre Carrier-Belleuse and Auguste François-Marie Gorguet.
1914年冬天，战争刚开始几个月，就以惊人的远见开始了这幅画的创作。这一创意来自两位有过全景画创作经验的法国艺术家，皮埃尔·卡利·贝卢斯（Pierre Carrier Belleuse）和奥古斯特·弗朗索瓦·玛丽·戈尔盖（Auguste François Marie Gorguet）。
Together, they enlisted an array of painters -- particularly elderly ones, as many young ones were on the front line -- and obtained financial and political support, which was essential due to the scale of the project and the materials required. Among the latter were 18,000 square feet of Belgian linen for the canvas, tons of steel armature to support it and enormous amounts of paint, all of which were at a premium in wartime.
"Their intent was patriotic, but also commercial," said Mark Levitch, an art historian at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and author of "Panthéon de la Guerre: Reconfiguring a Panorama of the Great War," in a phone interview. "Panoramic paintings like this were money-making ventures -- the Hollywood blockbusters of the day. But it was really a 19th-century phenomenon, and this was sort of its last gasp."
The painting was hung in a complete, uninterrupted circle; visitors descended into a tunnel to emerge right in the middle of it. The custom-built, octagonal building that housed it was enviably located in Rue de l"Université, steps from Les Invalides and just a few blocks from the Louvre. It was inaugurated by French President Raymond Poincaré, himself immortalized on the canvas, less than a month before the end of the war -- timing that was "mostly serendipitous," as Levitch puts it.
Although a circular painting has, technically no center, the main focus of the "Panthéon de la Guerre" was a temple and staircase, representing the French section that spanned about 122 feet. This segment contained most of the 5,000 figures portrayed in the painting, with the rest split between other Allied nations including Britain, Italy, Russia and the United States, each given a space of around 32 feet or less. The background was meant to represent the battlefields of France and Belgium.
虽然一幅圆形的绘画在技术上没有中心，但“Panthéon de la Guerre”的主要焦点是一座庙宇和楼梯，代表了跨度约122英尺的法国部分。这一部分包含了画中描绘的5000个人物中的大部分，其余的被其他盟国（包括英国、意大利、俄罗斯和美国）分割开来，每个国家的空间大约为32英尺或更少。背景是为了代表法国和比利时的战场。
The search for figures worthy of appearing in the artwork was painstaking.
"They sifted through the press and read the citations of the day, to see who was killed and find out who was most deserving of being put in this sort of encyclopedia of the French war effort," Levitch said. "They got photographs of people who had been killed and made sketches from those, while others, such as government officials, were sketched in person."
The "Panthéon de la Guerre" remained in its Paris home for nine years and was seen by three million people. "It was as much for tourists as it was for the French, and seemed particularly popular with American soldiers," Levitch said.
In 1927, as interest started to wane, it was bought by three American businessmen who wanted to send it on a US tour.
"I think they bought it for something like 250,000 dollars, real money for the time, and it had a very high-profile sendoff that I suspect was meant as much for American eyes as it was for the French," Levitch said.
The creators of the painting were opposed to the sale, fearing they would never see it again, although the buyers promised to eventually return it. The sendoff involved ambassadors and bands playing national anthems, in the hope that the "Panthéon de la Guerre" would cement Franco-American relations. A few modifications were made, most notably the inclusion of more women and African-Americans.
这幅画的创作者反对出售，担心再也看不到它，尽管买家承诺最终会退货。送别仪式由大使和乐队演奏国歌，希望“Panthéon de la Guerre”能巩固法美关系。进行了一些修改，最显著的是纳入了更多的妇女和非裔美国人。
Its first stop was New York"s Madison Square Garden, where it attracted one million visitors in eight weeks. "They had an appropriately gargantuan opening night with 25,000 people and lots of notables, but it ended up closing two months ahead of schedule, so they were obviously not making as much money as they had hoped," Levtich said.
The painting, just like the war itself, was perceived very differently in the US. France had suffered about 1.7 million deaths in the conflict, whereas the US, which entered the war in 1917, lost around 117,000. Americans had a faint, mostly celebratory memory of the war; the French a rather vivid, bloody one.
"It was not promoted as the solemn painting that it was," Levitch said. "Instead, there were blow horns and even machine guns in Chicago for the 1933 World Fair. It was almost like a carnival attraction, but that"s not the spirit of the painting at all. It"s really rather quiet for all its grandiosity."
The last stop on the painting"s US tour was San Francisco in 1940. At that point, the artwork was falling out of fashion and was sent to a storage facility in Baltimore, where it laid abandoned for 12 years in the almost tomb-like, 55-foot crate originally built for it in Paris. Because the painting was too big to keep indoors, it was left outside, and once the owner stopped paying the storage fee -- due to being caught up in World War II in Europe -- it was auctioned off.