Necropolis And The Linguist

23 Aug

23 champollion

Husb and I just went away for a few days to Paris and in our last few hours we visited the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. I knew there were famous graves there and we wanted to visit some dead artists but I had no idea what to expect or how amazing the place is. It’s a necropolis; a city of the dead. The area is packed with incredible tombs and monuments, most of them like tiny houses with pointed roofs, doors and stained glass windows, laid out in streets. It’s like walking around a city from a Tim Burton film.

One grave I desperately wanted to visit was the tomb of Jean-Francois Champollion, the French linguist who translated the Rosetta Stone and unlocked the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphics. The monument is in an older part of the necropolis, rather rundown and ramshackle, but his simple and minimalist memorial obelisk stands out from the strange, ornate little houses surrounding it. It was a very hot day and the place was full of tourists and mourners attending funerals but there was a strange silence underlying it all.

I sat on the ground opposite and worked up this sketch into my A5 clothbound sketchbook that I’d previously prepared with some ripped up brown package paper. I used Faber Castell Pitt pens, sizes S, F, M and B in sepia along with some water colour in black and emerald green and a touch of white conte crayon.

The BBC has a documentary about Champollion and the Rosetta Stone on You Tube.

11 Responses to “Necropolis And The Linguist”

  1. Red Hen August 25, 2013 at 22:33 #

    How interesting! I think Jim Morrison from The Doors is there. Another piece of useless information I carry around in my head!

    • Red Hen August 25, 2013 at 22:41 #

      Oops! Just caught Anna`s comment and see Morrison is indeed resting-though maybe not even particularly peacefully-in Pere Lachaise.

      • Rosie Scribblah August 30, 2013 at 17:01 #

        Thank you. It’s a fascinating place.

  2. anna warren portfolio August 24, 2013 at 08:38 #

    That’s a great drawing, the background brown paper works so well. I always wanted to visit Jim Morrisons grave at Pere Lachaise, but apparently it has been badly abused by so-called fans. But I do love those huge French necropolises.

  3. Helen Cherry August 24, 2013 at 08:29 #

    I didn’t go when I was in Paris back in the late 70’s.. looks fascinating

  4. SiverBlack August 23, 2013 at 22:55 #

    Sounds like a fascinating place. The different papers on the page really set off how different the structures are, and I like how the iron work bridges them and brings them back together. Cool stuff! The little cherub-looking face on the corner of the left building made me smile.

    • Rosie Scribblah August 30, 2013 at 17:02 #

      There are all sorts of weird things, like the cherub! A lot of the monments have dogs on them. And hands thrusting up out of the graves!!!!

  5. cavepainter August 23, 2013 at 22:14 #

    It’d be interesting to have a live-people city like that. You walk into an ancient tomb and it’s a bookstore. “Tom’s Tomb’s Tomes” they’ll call it.

    • Rosie Scribblah August 30, 2013 at 17:03 #

      That’s a brilliant idea. It’s one of the most amazing places I’ve seen.

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