Built in 1892, the bridge was destroyed in 1956 to answer to the intensification of road traffic. So, the dolphins were partly melted, and some were saved like the two pieces that we have the pleasure to present here.
Rare historical witnesses of a work of art by Gustave Eiffel, being moreover beautiful sculptures of superb quality, these pieces can from now on be adapted as fountains or adorn a pleasure garden
Born in Dijon on December 15, 1832, the young Gustave was admitted to the Ecole Centrale in 1852, and studies metallurgy from 1856. It was while he was working for Charles Nepveu that the young engineer carried out his first bridges projects, which allows him at the age of 25 years to take charge of the immense Pont de Bordeaux. As a result of this major success, he realized several bridges in the South-West of France.
Prodigy of the mid-19th century, Eiffel starts his own business in Levallois-Perret, a workshop that conceives all the parts destined to be assembled on the sites. Between 1870 and 1880, the whole world appealed to G. Eiffel et Cie, notably for the framework of the Statue of Liberty in New York (1882), the Pest Train Station in Hungary, but also in Java, Bolivia or Algeria. His career culminated in 1889 with the realization of the highest monument of the time, the Eiffel Tower.
The bridge of Grenoble and its dolphins is therefore one of its first constructions realized after the Eiffel Tower, in 1892. Although Gustave Eiffel is better known for the Iron Lady, the dolphins of the bridge of Grenoble are therefore very representative of his career.
Around 1890, after the success of the Eiffel Tower, the city of Grenoble appealed to the great engineer for its bridge, and work began in 1892. Holding on two piers in the Isère River, the bridge of the Porte de France, also called Esplanade bridge or Bastille bridge, has three spans and the railing is adorned with cast iron dolphins.
Becoming too narrow in the twentieth century for traffic needs, the bridge was destroyed in 1956, and replaced by a construction of Pelnard-Considere and Co. The 68 dolphins of the Eiffel bridge were partly melted, but some were preserved by the towns of the region and by private individuals.
The dolphins, symbols of the Dauphiné Province
The artists of the Renaissance drew on these ancient representations, so that the mythological dolphin marked the spirits in extraordinary works, such as the Triton Fountain that Gian Lorenzo Bernini sculpted for Pope Urban VIII in 1643.
A drawing of Jean Le Pautre fixes the features we find in these cast dolphins: the body covered with scales, the eyes surrounded by concentric volutes, a dorsal fin and two fins on each side of the head.
Thus, the chimeric dolphins already decorate the city of Grenoble in 1825, with the Lavalette Fountain cast by Crozatier. Eiffel prefers a more harmonious shape for his bridge of 1892, enabling to soften the angles of the railing with the beam. Repeated all along the bridge, these dolphins were discreet from afar while offering a pleasant decoration closer.
The pair of dolphins we present is therefore of historical importance, being a rare vestige of a destroyed work of Gustave Eiffel. Authentic ornaments of the guardrail of the former bridge of Grenoble, with the exceptional quality peculiar to a public purchase, they bear the memory of the incredible progresses, in particular technological, which were realized thanks to the company G. Eiffel and Co. .
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