Tag Archives: Gallery of Evolution

Paris Wanderlust: Tuileries, Plantes, Monceau

Tuileries, Plantes, Monceau

Jardin des Tuileries

Aristide Maillol’s sculptures of female nudes, some of them allegorical: treasures of the Jardin des Tuileries.

Les trois grâces
Monument à Cézanne, 1925
La Nuit (1909)
La Baigneuse drapée (1937)

Gaston Lachaise’s fertility goddess who can also whup your ass.

Gaston Lachaise, Standing Woman (1932)

A Dubuffet masquerader:

Jean Dubuffet, Le Bel costumé (1998)

The Sons of Cain by Paul Landowski:

Paul Landowski, Les Fils de Caïn (1906)

I braved the dust of the Tuileries to check out Statues Die Too, three totemic sculptures in limestone:

Stefan Rinck, Les Statues Meurent Aussi (2017)

The Vowel Tree momentarily fooled me. How will I view it next time?

Giuseppe Penone, Arbre des Voyelles (1999

Jardin des Plantes

Comte de Buffon, French naturalist, greets you at the entrance to the gardens:

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (5e)

Buffon’s chair leg pins down an anguished lion rug:

One of the greenhouses of the Jardin des Plantes:

The flower beds of Jardin des Plantes are groomed by a small army of gardeners who regularly snip spent blooms. A company called Nova Flore Jardin produces new varieties, such as the dahlia below dubbed “French Cancan”:

Not many curves in this botanical garden, just runways of the latest floral fashions.

The sculpture Cub Hunter depicts an enraged mother bear attacking a hunter who has killed one of her cubs. Although the hunter’s knife has found its target, the she-bear is poised to clamp down on his jugular.

Dénicheur d’Oursons (1884) by Emmanuel Frémiet

Outside the zoo, which occupies almost half of the botanical gardens, I observed a raven engaged in earnest conversation with two snowy owls, plotting the great escape.

The Jardin des Plantes is more than just charming new dahlia varieties.

The Gallery of Evolution
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(More on the architecture of the Gallery of Evolution in my upcoming post on Art Nouveau.)

The Gallery displays specimens from its impressive insect collection. Below, the harmless “peanut head bug” evolved eyespots to mimic a creature more ferocious than the benign lunch that it really is. Its monstrous head provides a similar defense. Neither failed to deter the collector.

Below: The green-and-black Malaysian butterfly evolved jagged patterns on its wings to resemble a certain green-and-black Malaysian bird in flight — the butterfly’s insurance against predators seeking insects. Both bird and butterfly are protected because their jagged patterns resemble thorns. Evolutionary mimicry can be complicated . . .

Some pretty grasshoppers:

The Fake Ruins of Parc Monceau

About twenty years before the French Revolution, the green space that’s now Parc Monceau was purchased by Louis Philippe II, Duc d’Orléans.

Louis-Philippe was an aristocrat who embraced some of the ideals of the Enlightenment. On his purchased land, he created in 1778 a public park based on the English model of the “folly”: gardens decorated with structures that imitated architectural “curiosities” from other lands or times. Intended to be amusing and thought provoking, the objects in the duke’s park are sometimes fantastical, sometimes miniature, and often built intentionally as ruins.


A Classical colonnade built around a reflecting pond. The scaffolding suggests that this imitation ruin has itself fallen into ruin.

About ten years after the park was finished, and on the eve of the French Revolution, a new wall was constructed around the city — not for defense purposes, but for the collection of customs taxes by an elite and very wealthy group of “tax farmers.” The park lay just inside the unpopular wall, and a neoclassical rotunda housing customs offices was built along its northern boundary. The upper level was presented to Louis-Philippe as an observation deck, so that he could enjoy an elevated view of his park.

During the French Revolution, the duke adopted the liberal ideals of liberté, égalité, fraternité. He fed the poor, renounced his nobility, and joined the Revolutionary Jacobins. He changed his name to Philippe Égalité and opened the doors of his inherited Palais Royal to the public, renaming it “Palais Égalité.” He even voted in favour of executing his cousin, King Louis-Philippe XVI.

But becoming a model citoyen of the new republic couldn’t save him from the infighting and suspicions of Revolutionary factions. Citoyen Égalité was guillotined in 1793.

Next: Jardin du Luxembourg

Camille Martin

Paris Wanderlust: Sexy Art Nouveau

Sexy Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau architecture must have appeared like a breath of fresh air amid regimented Haussmannian streets, the eclecticism of Beaux Arts architecture, and centuries of revivals of models from classical antiquity. Art Nouveau flourished only for about twenty years, from 1895 to 1914, the start of World War I, but it unleashed an explosion of creativity in architecture, infused variety into the urban landscape, and introduced the sensuality of sinuous and “whiplash” lines into the architectural syntax.

Department stores of the grands boulevards

Printemps Haussmann

Printemps Haussmann rose from the ashes of its 1881 fire, and its new architecture anticipated Art Nouveau styles. The use of glass and metal, the graceful curvilinear forms, and the colourful terracotta mosaics introduced Art Nouveau elements.

Paul Sedille’s reconstructed Printemps Haussmann (1880s)

Galeries Lafayette

A set of balconies surrounding the interior atrium of Galeries Lafayette, built during the full flower of Art Nouveau:

Architects: Georges Chedanne and his pupil Ferdinand Chanut, Galeries Lafayette, atrium balconies (1912)

La Tour Eiffel (1889)

La Tour Eiffel was built as the grand entrance to the 1889 Paris Expo, which celebrated the centennial of the French Revolution. With its latticed wrought iron incorporating curved forms, La Tour Eiffel epitomized the technological expression of early Art Nouveau.

Gustave Eiffel, Tour Eiffel (1889), view from Tour Montparnasse
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Art Nouveau architects: Lavirotte, Raquin, Guimard

Jules Lavirotte

The Lavirotte Building was built at the time of the 1900 Paris Exposition, an important showcase for the Art Nouveau style. Here is Art Nouveau architecture in full blossom, its rich and varied forms heavily ornamented and utterly original.

Architect: Jules Lavirotte (1864-1929), Lavirotte Building (1899-1901), 29 Avenue Rapp (7e)

Polychrome ceramics boldly enliven the facade of the apartment building.

Lavirotte’s exuberant design won a 1901 competition for most original facade in the 7th arrondissement. It’s easily the sexiest facade in Paris, hands down.

Phallic encoding on the entrance door:

Octave Raquin

Raquin built “Les Arums” in 1900 as a private college.

Architect: Octave Raquin, Les Arums (1900) 33 Rue du Champ de Mars (7e)

The decoration of the ornate but homogeneous facade derives inspiration from flowers: arums and calla lilies.

Marquise entrance with ornate wrought iron gate of arums:

Hector Guimard

Hôtel Guimard

Pioneering Art Nouveau architect Guimard made his debut in 1899 with his Castle Beranger, which won a competition for best new facade. Ten years later came the plainer Hôtel Guimard, the architect’s own residence. The relatively unadorned building allows its subtle curved lines and formal consistency to take center stage. It’s a quieter, stripped-down Art Nouveau.

Hector Guimard (1867-1942) Hôtel Guimard (1909), 122 Avenue Mozart (16e)

When I was there in 2019, the building was slated for cleaning and restoration.

Métro Mirabeau

Many of Guimard’s métro entrances were destroyed. The surviving ones are considered treasures and protected as historical monuments. That sometimes happens when you’re is ahead of your time.

Below: a surviving Art Nouveau entrance at Métro Mirabeau, designed in about 1913 by Guimard. It features escutcheons along the railing, and lamp posts with reddish lights, glowing like alien lily-of-the-valley pods. Over the entrance hangs a “Métropolitain” sign with characteristic font.

Hôtel Lutetia

Luxury hotel built in 1910 in Art Nouveau style:

Architects: Louis-Charles Boileau and Henri Tauzin, Hôtel Lutetia (1910), 45 Boulevard Raspail (6e)

Otherly Art Nouveau

The flowery facade of Rue Froidevaux

This 1929 building for artist studios and residences features late Art Nouveau decoration on the facade:

Architect: Georges Grimbert, artist studios and residences on Rue Froidevaux (1929) (14e)

The Building with the Green Balconies

The unusual building below has been described as Art Nouveau. It was built when that architectural movement was in full swing, but it’s an eclectic interpretation of it. The rectilinear green railings display nothing of the characteristic sinulous wrought iron designs, but the building’s curved forms faintly register Art Nouveau. Its presence in the 15th arrondissement is arresting.

83-85 Rue Blomet (1909) (15e)

Some Art Nouveau details:

Double ogive with cats, 12 Rue Blomet (15e)

Next: Art Deco

Camille Martin