Friendship of France and the United States

Friendship of France & the U.S.

Above Friendship of France

Above: figure of France above the gilded relief.

Hands across the water...


Above: Figure at upper left

The figures reaching toward each other at the top are not who you'd think, given the title of this relief. The one on the left holds a model of Notre Dame on her lap and sits on a ship that's centuries out of date. Behind her swirls a banner with the motto "Fluctuat nec mergitur" - "It is tossed on the waves but doesn't sink." That's the motto of the city of Paris, and the old-fashioned ship is also part of the coat of arms.

Arms of Paris

Above: coat of arms of Paris; more details on the motto and the arms here. See the castle at the top? On the Rockefeller Center relief, Paris stylishly wears it as a hat.

At the right is a figure in front of a towering skyline; her banner reads "New York." Her peculiar chair is probably the latest in transatlantic liners.

New York

Above: New York

Below these two are the Three Graces. Among the Greeks, the most common identification of the Graces is as Zeus's daughters Aglaia, Thalia, and Euphrosyne - Beauty, Good Cheer, and Joy. Here, according to the inscriptions accompanying them, they're Poesie (Poetry - staring off into space, as poets will do), Beaute (Beauty - looking a lot like Botticelli's Venus), and Elegance (who seems to be thinking about a primitive form of haute couture).

Three Graces

Above: The Three Graces, Poetry, Beauty, and Elegance

Further reading