World War I Section

Constellation de la Douleur - Chemin des Dames

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Constellation de la Douleur by Christian Lapie

Constellation de la Douleur is a set of nine sculptures.

They were commissioned in order to mark the 90th anniversary of the fighting that took place on the Chemin des Dames during the Great War.

They stand by the entrance to the Caverne du Dragon.

The sculptor Christian Lapie created the giant black sculptures in order to pay tribute to the soldiers of the French Colonial Troops.

The Senegalese Tirailleurs indeed launched the attack on the Dragon's Lair of April 16, 1917.

The artist had planned to call his creation: Traverser la Douleur - Crossing the Pain.

He, however, opted for Constellation de la Douleur, when he discovered that there was a cluster of stars called Constellation of the Dragon.

According to Christian Lapie:

"ces étoiles étaient comme une présence permanente, un écho dans le ciel de la douleur de ces gens qui ne sont plus là."
" these stars were like a permanent presence, an echo in the sky of the pain of these people who are not there anymore."

The 6m high statues of La Constellation de la Douleur are made from oak wood coated with black tar.

They have no face, no arms, no legs, no age and no gender.

They are placid sentinels who watch over the souls of those who died on this very slope.

Christian Lapie said:

L'hommage aux Tirailleurs Sénégalais est une tribu de sentinelles placides et immuables. Elles sont si présentes qu'il semble qu'elles ont toujours été là, qu'elles font partie du paysage, de son histoire."

Constellation de la Douleur - Memorial to the French Colonial Troops

15,000 Senegalese Tirailleurs launched the assault on the Dragon's Lair quarry under the pouring rain and snow and continuous fire of German machine guns.

The statues are placed on the slope adjacent to the Museum of the Chemin des Dames, by the quarry's original entrance, where 1400 of them fell.

La Constellation de la Douleur is a monument, but also a Site of Remembrance.

The President of the General Council of the Aisne unveiled La Constellation de la Douleur on September 22, 2007.

The territorial organisation manages the Museum of the Chemin des Dames.

Aisne department - Caverne du Dragon - Oulches-la-Vallée-Foulon - Picardie region
Coordinates: Lat 49.441744 - Long 3.731170

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