“How nice it would be to die swimming towards the sun,” Le Corbusier has been quoted as saying – and in a death seemingly as stage-managed as his life, it appears he perhaps did just that when out for his regular morning swim off Cap Martin on the Côte d’Azur, early on August 27, 1965.
More likely, one suspects, he died staring covetously back at the coast to Eileen Grey’s elegant modernist villa E1027 for which he had long held an obsession, and adjacent to which he had built his own tiny holiday home, Le Cabanon.
After his death, his body was conducted for a rather gothic State funeral to Paris, during which his coffin was processed through the courtyard of the Louvre, accompanied by soldiers with flaming tapers. Later his remains were returned for burial back to this modest plot facing the sea above Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, alongside those of his wife, Yvonne. He designed the grave for her and ready for himself, when she died in 1957.
The grave sits at the edge of the cemetery looking out towards the horizon, the line of which is echoed by that between his yellow-and-red plaque above and her blue plaque below – he definitively the sun, she the sea. I (rgw)