|Victor Noir, either seated
or very short
|The Neuilly cemetery on the day of the funeral, and (quite possibly) the same scene today.
Many of those who had been involved in the protests following the death of Victor Noir, including Louise Michel and Jules Dalou, took part in the 1871 Commune in Paris, and were forced into exile after it was violently put down. Revolutionary activities, to which the name of Victor Noir was now indelibly linked, were no longer in evidence, and the young journalist was able to lay undisturbed in Neuilly for the next twenty years as the Third Republic entered a period of relative tranquility.
|Victor Noir may have been removed from the cemetery in Neuilly, but he lives on in the name of the street that surrounds it.
When Victor Noir was moved from Neuilly, not all of him made it to Père Lachaise. As the remains were being removed from his original resting place, his brother Louis asked to be left alone for a moment alongside the coffin. A witness declared later that he'd stumbled across the scene and found Louis removing his brother's skull. He said nothing to anyone else at the time, and Louis apparently kept the skull in a glass case in his home, talking to it regularly! After Louis died, the skull was eventually taken to his tomb in Père Lachaise where it joined the rest of his body.
It is the image of a man who became a revolutionary symbol despite himself. What is even more unlikely though is his current status - as a fertility symbol. He was someone who was quite possibly still a virgin when he died, but this reputation comes from two elements. For some reason, Dalou chose to emphasise a certain part of his anatomy, but nobody seemed to notice this until the 1970s, when certain tour guides at the cemetery invented the fertility myth.
Since that moment, women looking to fall pregnant visit the tomb and rub themselves against the sculpture, and some parts are very clearly 'polished' (nose, mouth and chin, the tips of his boots - and of course his genitals!). He also regularly receives flowers, as can be seen in the photo at the top of the page, as well as messages in his hat.
His death may not have lead to the downfall of an empire, but who can say that it has not indirectly lead to the birth of a few babies in the city?