St. Innocents' Cemetery, Hoffbauer

Year 1552
Innocents-4, St. Innocent
La danse Macabre
Innocents-4, Ossuary

Most of the pictures — and some of the best — are those published by Theodor (Fedor) Hoffbauer in the book Paris à travers les âges, 1875-1882.

The picture to the left shows how the cemetery since the 14th century had been enclosed by four walls. The pulpit and the octagonal tower have been clearly rendered. I have marked the location of La Danse Macabre with red.

The picture to the right shows how La Danse Macabre might have looked in the arcades under the ossuaries. Compare with Grimer's painting.

Year 1550
Innocents-4, St. Innocent
Year 1750
Innocents-4, St. Innocent

To the left we see the cemetery around the year 1550 with ossuaries to the left and the church in the background. The pulpit is clearly open, and both the pulpit and the octagonal tower are placed as they should be according to Bernier's plan. On the right side you see the start of the southern ossuaries, Charnier des Lingères, where La Danse Macabre was located.

The image to the right shows the same scene 200 years later. The pulpit has been bricked up. On the right side, right next to the octagonal tower, are now a number of houses, where the ossuaries with La Danse Macabre used to be before they were demolished in 1669.

Copy of Bernier's drawing
Innocents-3, Hoffbauer
Copy of Bernier's drawing
Innocents-3, Villeroy

The picture to the left is obviously copied from Bernier's drawing. A man has been added for "human interest" and the "camera" has been pulled back slightly, so we now see the entire pulpit to the left.

The picture to the right is just as obviously copied from another drawing by Bernier. It shows a small chapel, Chapelle de Villeroy, which was located along the west-wall, i.e. at the opposite end of the yard compared to the church.

St. Innocents, 14th May 1610
Innocents-4, 1610

Unlike many other images by Hoffbauer that can be found anywhere on the Internet, the picture to the right is sadly overlooked. The image (and the description) are taken from Livret explicatif du diorama de Paris à travers les âges, 1885.

In the foreground, life goes on as usual: The workers are stacking skulls under the roof, and a little further away a new corpse is interred in a shroud. At the far back of the picture, to the right of the church, the roof has been raised so the ceiling now has two floors with skulls (see the page about ossuaries). We once again see the pulpit (at this time not yet bricked up) and the octagonal tower. Kids are playing around between monuments and skulls, and everything is peaceful.

In contrast there is quite a stir to the right. It is May 14th, 1610, and King Henri IV has just been murdered outside the Porte Saint-Jacques (this entry is marked with (K) in the far right corner of the background). The king was stabbed to death while his car was stuck in traffic at the Rue de la Ferronnerie, and in the right part of the scene the murderer has been apprehended.

59 years later it was decided to demolish the charnel houses along the Rue de la Ferronnerie in order to straighten and broaden the street. See the page about dates and demolition or click the image for a larger version and a link to the book itself.

Innocents 1550
Innocents-4 1499: Innocents 1550
Innocents 1780
Innocents-4 1499: Innocents 1780
Ossuary
Innocents-4 1499: Ossuary
St. Innocent
Innocents-4 1499: St. Innocent
St. Innocent
Innocents-4 1499: St. Innocent
St. Innocent
Innocents-4 1499: St. Innocent
1610
Innocents-4 1499: 1610

Further information


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