Here at the North Pole —

At this moment (6:40 p.m.) the thermometer stands at 8 degrees fahrenheit (13 degrees centigrade) and is falling fast. This is the winter vista before the sun went down:

A Winter Vista

Pretty bleak, despite the pretty blue sky and blue snow. Instead of fat gray squirrels dashing to and fro, the landscape would be more hospitable to large prowling white animals. Polar bears, maybe. It just so happens that we HAVE a polar bear, what the Germans call an Eisbar:

Pompon's Polar Bear

A fine specimen, our polar bear, even if he is only about 16 inches long. Look at his massive paws, the sheer weight and strength and power of them! He’s an actual size replica of a sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and years ago I had to buy him because — well, you knew there was a story attached, didn’t you?

Many years ago, decades of them, when my husband and I were strolling around the enchanted town of Dijon, France, we came upon a leafy green park and were greeted at the entrance by a HUGE polar bear, a magnificent sculpture, life-size:

Sculpture in Parc Darcy

For me it was love at first sight. Every day we were in Dijon I made sure to visit my friend, the Polar Bear. The plaque said that the sculpture was by a M. François Pompon, made in 1922. The sculpture is marble, and is perhaps eight FEET long, despite the fact that it looks so small in the only photo I could find of it in situ. (Use your imagination to visualize my little reproduction inflated to eight feet!) When years later I found a reproduction of Pompon’s polar bear at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I had to splurge and buy it, and it has lived ever since on our coffee table.

Our current intense cold makes my polar bear more relevant than ever. If we are going to be living in another Ice Age populated by Arctic animals, I’d like to be more knowledgeable about them. So I Googled my bear and his creator. Pompon, a Burgundian from Saulieu, was a one-time assistant to Rodin. He was later famed for his stylized animal sculptures, and was an influence on, among others, Constantin Brancusi. His work was, unsurprisingly, immensely popular.

For years I’ve revered the name François Pompon (which is quite a wonderful name, anyway) and marveled at the coincidence of the huge bear in the park and my small reproduction. Imagine my surprise? chagrin? while Googling to discover that in fact the sculpture in the Park Darcy in Dijon is NOT by Pompon himself. It is a copy made in hommage by another sculptor altogether, one Henri Martinet. Pompon’s original sculpture is in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Had I but known when we were in Paris—

Ah well. If Martinet could do an hommage, then so can I. M. Pompon, this one’s for you!

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34 Responses to Here at the North Pole —

  1. Gemma says:

    Pretty stinking cold here too. Hang in…

    Like

  2. I shall look him up at the Musée D’Orsay when I am next there, just for you! A polar bear appeared to me in a vision a couple of days ago so it really made me smile to see yours here today. Stay warm. This freezing cold weather must leave soon. oh please.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Oh, please:
      Chase away the cold.
      Find the polar bear at the Musée, and if it should be on exhibition, take a picture, pretty please!
      Do you have bears as well as birds as totems?
      🙂

      Like

      • well here’s the silly thing. I never realized bear was one of my totems till this vision in spite of spotting bear in the woods more often than most people ever do!
        I will definitely take a picture of this at the Musée if he is on display and if he is not, I will inquire as to when he might be shown!

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  3. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Lots of famous and ancient marbles have been reproduced inthis way, it’s okay that the one you met wasn’t the original , the important bit is your memory and love of it.

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  4. Loving Monsieur Pompon and your polar bear! Stay warm up there at the pole 🙂

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  5. Madhu says:

    Yes the the weather seems fit for polar bears! Pompons replica is beautiful. I don’t remember seeing the original at the D’Orsay, Shall of course look out for him when I return 🙂

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Probably they don’t have it on exhibit. It’s always so frustrating when you know a museum owns something you REALLY want to see — but it’s in their basements! But if it should be out there, I’m requesting photos!
      Thanks for visiting, Madhu.

      Like

  6. 2e0mca says:

    He is a rather elegant sculpture – definitely not your ‘average bear’ 🙂

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      You have a discerning eye, Martin 😉
      But it’s true, polar bears are long and sleek and quite different from “ordinary” bears, i.e. black bears, browns or grizzlies.
      They are the glamour girls of the species!

      Like

  7. suesilver says:

    Beautiful animals indeed! I visited The North Pole in Ak 3 years ago.I love Alaska.We went in February ,March and I really look forward to a return trip perhaps in summer.

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  8. uummmmmmmmmm……….it’s 78 degrees in the Emerald City

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  9. rebekah says:

    Very cold here too … weather for polar bears indeed! We’re even under a wind chill warning, due to this nippy, nor’easterly wind. Makes -27C feel like -37C. Schools are closed, water mains break … thankfully I haven’t had to go out.

    Must have been fun to see that polar bear sculpture in France of all places. I can imagine its size from the picture. I was likewise surprised to see a sculpture of a seal, last time I was in my home town! It was just there in the grass in a park …no plaque, nobody seems to know anything about it — I’ve searched the city’s page for public art. Cute, though 🙂

    Stay warm!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      The cold and windchill warnings seem to stretch on forever here and up your way —
      We did have to go out yesterday and bundled up accordingly, down coats and gloves and scarves and even knitted caps.
      Do all men loathe wearing caps, or is it just my Hub?????

      Like

  10. pauline says:

    I don’t remember seeing that bear on your coffee table but then it was warm when I visited and I wasn’t on the look out for bears. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see one in the yard in this cold, though. Love the sleekness and nose to the wind… maybe if we get more snow I will build a snow bear with the Bean!

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  11. ristinw says:

    I wish to travel to North Pole in the future to see the Northern Lights again!! The beauty of it, nothing on earth can compare with! 😀

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  12. Patti Kuche says:

    As you say, a fine specimen indeed and looking very much as though carved from ice! Hope it warmer now for you!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      The saying in New England is, If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.
      Well, it’s taking full advantage of that liberty this week! Up and down, up and down —
      (They may say the same in England also —)

      Like

  13. Glad I found this post, just so I understand about the replica of the bear in Park Darcy, which I plan to visit tomorrow. I’ve read there is a smaller original in the Musee des Beax Arts in Dijon in the Pompon room. I also plan to visit his museum in Saulieu. I have a picture of myself with the Musee d’Orsay Bear, and there’s a full size one in Antwerp in the Middleheim Sculpture Park where I also have a picture, but now I wonder if that is a replica. I was on a quest to be photographed with all the bears, but I’m thinking it’s not really possible, as there’s a small one at the Met Museum of Art in NYC. Sigh! And, there’s one on your coffee table! 🙂 The quest continues for the beloved bear!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I love it, a bear quest!
      And I understand fully, having gone on many quests myself. They are always fun, and successful in some way, if not in the obvious one.
      The Pompon bear on our coffee table is a replica of the small one at the MMA. I would think travel to NYC is in your near future —-
      🙂

      Like

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