In Dijon, Where Mustard Rules, You Can Also Meet an Ancient Goddess

For me, essentially the most spectacular object is the 18.5-inch bronze statue of Sequana herself. Slim and small-breasted, she wears a flowing costume that exposes her forearms and a part of her chest and falls in pleats to the ground, revealing the guidelines of her pointed slippers. A big, broad crown partly covers her wavy hair, which is parted within the center and tied behind her neck. Long tendrils body her face.

She is younger, with massive eyes and refined options, and wears a glance of anticipation. She stands in a ship, her forearms outstretched as if in a gesture of welcome. The prow of her boat is the top of a duck that holds a spherical object — a pomegranate, maybe — in its lengthy invoice; the strict is the duck’s upswept tail.

“I find her superb,” Frédérique Bouvard, a curator, informed me throughout one go to. “She is our Mona Lisa.”

A fictionalized 18th-century story about Sequana turned her right into a proto-feminist survivor who escaped the clutches of a lascivious Neptune by reworking herself into the Seine River. (The Seine was initially referred to as Sequana.) The story is woven into the traditional Greek fable of Persephone, who succumbed to Hades and needed to spend a lot of her life trapped within the underworld. Unlike Persephone, who fell sufferer to her abductor, Sequana escaped.

More well-known than the Musée Archéologique is the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon. Founded in 1787, it has lately reopened after an intensive renovation and is taken into account one among France’s most stunning museums. It consists of objects from antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, in addition to masterpieces by Titian, Veronese, de La Tour, Tiepolo, Delacroix, Monet, Manet, Sisley, Cross and Rouault.

But you probably have just one museum in Dijon to go to, make it the Musée Archéologique. Even passionate French artwork lovers have no idea the story of Sequana and the choices that got to her; it’s a journey deep right into a secret historical past of France.

I typically fantasize about making Sequana, a minor and forgotten regional goddess, world well-known. A pre-Christian therapeutic goddess with no ties to any residing faith, she would match properly into the official French coverage that reveres the republican preferrred. She might be the secular model of Joan of Arc, the warrior-martyr, and of Our Lady of Lourdes, the miracle employee. She might develop into a very powerful feminine icon in France.

Elaine Sciolino is the creator of “The Seine: The River That Made Paris,” to be printed Oct. 29.

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