Sure, Haussmann is universally credited with fulfilling Napolean III’s dream of a “revolution proof” Paris in the 1860’s, creating a modern city designed to replace the dark, dirty medieval one. Yes, he also designed the city’s new sewage system which relieved the population of disease epidemics. Fine, he brought order through uniformity. But what about the architects and sculptors who created the beautiful structures that make Paris, well, Paris? Who were they?
Architect Achille Champy and sculptor Henri Depois de Folleville were frequent collaborators in creating the Art Nouveau designs that were still very much in vogue, featuring flowing lines and organic subject matter. I delighted in capturing the “signatures” of the designers as well as details of their work, as if knowing their names would create a sense of connection to the artists behind the stone creations.
Another classic example of de Folleville’s work. By the mid 1880’s, Haussmann’s strict design rules had been loosened thanks to urban legislation, freeing architects to employ the talents of sculptural artists to adorn the buildings they had designed.
Théo Petit was a prolific architect who was as concerned with the details of his buildings’ façades as he was with their interiors. His design at 276 boulevard Raspail (14th) is included in a collection of his best work, due in no small part to the exterior work by the equally prolific sculptor Émile Durré, titled “Three Ages of Life”.
The first and the second ages, by Durré, whose work can also be found in the square Louise Michel in Montmartre.
Varying details create so much interest in this close-up view. According to Paris’s records of building permit applications, Émile Hurtré designed only three buildings in the city, with his greatest contribution being the magnificent and very Art Nouveau-esque Fermette Marbeuf restaurant in the city’s 8th arrondissement.
Dozens of examples of the Art Nouveau architecture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries can be found in the 16th arrondissement, far away from the pulsating center of Paris. This stunning doorway of an equally impressive private home on rue Montevideo is the work of Joachim Richard.
Gentil and Bourdet were the creative minds behind the design of the home itself. Imagine living in a mansion like this one in Paris.
Or maybe one of these curvaceous, light-filled creations, also by Gentil and Bourdet. “Fantasy roof construction” was the term given to this type of rooftop architecture, and I’d say it describes the style quite well. Don’t you? I’ve seen these two amazing “fantasies”, which over look the Seine in the 7th, and I’m sure I could manage to be quite happy in the apartment on the right. Et vous? Which would you choose?
These are obviously just a few of the dozens of talented artists who created then molded the beauty of the Paris we enjoy today. I know this might sound strange considering all there is to see, but during your next trip to Paris, take a moment to look at the buildings’ walls…you may be surprised by what you find.
“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”–Winston Churchill