Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The secret angel of rue de Turbigo

The whole feeling of Paris changes once the leaves come out on the trees. The harsh edge of winter becomes very palpably spring as everyone starts enjoying the warmer weather and lighter evenings. However, winter does have its up side in the city. For example, having no foliage on trees can reveal some surprising architectural details, such as this one at Art-et-Métiers (57 rue de Turbigo, to be exact), just one minute from the Great Apartment. In fact, it's so huge that I'm sure most people don't even notice it...

Starting two floors up and standing three storeys high, this angel has always been a bit of an enigma. Some may think it's a caryatid, but here it doesn't seem to have any structural significance, being very obviously ornamental. Seen from close up, it's pretty impressive.

Until now, I almost thought that I was the only person to have noticed it, but trolling around the web proves otherwise. Indeed, there's a long article about it here, in which I learnt that:

-the building was once referred to as La Maison du Génie (the Angel Building)

- the sculpture is 9 metres high

- apparently, it was inspired by an original design for a lighthouse, and

- the angel celebrates its 150th anniversary this year!

Some decorative elements of it may be a reference to the local passementerie (trimmings) industry, although this is just supposition. The article finishes off in rather fanciful style, stating that the sculpture is "a serenely vigilant guardian angel radiating happiness throughout the neighborhood." I'm not sure about that, but it's certainly an beautiful oddity that I'm glad to see whenever I pass by on my way to the Great Apartment.

Yep, it's on rue de Turbigo! You can also see it on our map of all things cool:

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