Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Nancy - Art Nouveau Architecture

Lillian :  Nancy is a great place to see Art Nouveau architecture, art, glass-work etc
Audrey :  It had its own 'School' - The École de Nancy
Lillian :  Yes, there is a wonderful museum and you can go on guided walks.  Which we did but in this post we thought we would show you some of the not-so-famous, not in the guide books, Art Nouveau delights that we spotted on our rambles around Nancy.

Audrey : This large building has a fern frond motif.
Lillian :  Well, Art Nouveau often took inspiration from nature and the École de Nancy was especially notable for the use of botanical motifs. 

Audrey: I think the people in Nancy really loved their gardens.
Lillian : Quite probably.  The Fern Frond Building also has a square tower and we saw quite a lot of those on Art Nouveau buildings.

Audrey :  The architects signed their buildings and we've tried to find out more about Monsieur Deon without much success. 
Lillian :  Here is the door, very decorated.

Wrought Iron Balcony - fern fronds with fruit & leaves
Audrey :  Let's look at that lovely ironwork

Fanlight over door - metalwork looks like Maidenhair Fern

Brass handle - lovingly polished & can you see the beetle?
Audrey : Ooo beetles - I like them best when they are not flying into my hair!  But Art Nouveau artists were quite fond of all insects ... those long antennae can be made to curl in a pretty way.
More lovely ironwork from this building

Audrey : Let's see some other Art Nouveau buildings.
Lillian : When you are in an older area, it is a good idea to 'Look Up'  - especially where there are shops, the ground level or rez de chaussée is often modernised but if you look up, you are often rewarded with lovely architectural details. 

Audrey : Now that was a shop being renovated ... new gutter & downpipe but the top floor was still occupied by pigeons!
Art Deco mosaic tile detail

Lillian : Art Nouveau style sitting next to the Art Deco - perhaps the upper floors were built or decorated later but perhaps not.  Our stylist says that it is common enough with the clothing of the 1920s & 30s - like the beaded 'flapper dresses' - to find motifts from both 'Arts' sitting side by side. 
The lovely lead-light window is very Nouveau and would look even better from the inside - mauve birds and yellow orchids framing a lattice of green glass.

Audrey :  The wood surround is carved with poppy flowers - and here is a detail.
Lillian :  Another shop - the rez de chaussée made modern - but look up! 

Audrey :  Even with the distracting reflections those sinuous lines are fabulous!

Lillian : This is the Magasins Vaxelaire et Pignot, built in 1901 by Emile André & Eugène Vallin.

Some furniture that was designed for this shop is now in the Musée d'Orsay.

Lillian : We've a policy to respect peoples' privacy - the figures you can see in this window are mannequins.

Audrey :  They're just dummies!   But let us show you a close-up of those fabulous peacock tails.  We think they are made of copper.

Lillian : Here is another shop window found by looking up - again this shows a blend of Art Nouveau and Art Deco.  Wonder if this was originally a music shop or music school. 

Lillian : This shop-front was in a side street and this building shows another characteristic of Art Nouveau architecture - it is asymmetrical and the details are slightly different for each level.

Audrey : Just like an Air and Variations in music.
Here is a close up of the balcony on the deuxième étage.


Audrey : And the one above it on the troisième étage.

Lillian : This building was designed by Emile André for Henri Camal, who was a manufacturer of straw hats - so the building was a shop, workroom and residence.

Audrey : Our last building for this post of Art Nouveau finds is also quite asymmetrical and has lots of lovely curves.  It is known as the Immeuble Margot (Margot building), it dates from 1906 and was designed by Eugène Vallin.

Here is a close-up of the balcony on the 3rd floor (that's the troisième étage).  Can you see the curly iron tendrils just above the stone sides?


 Lillian : The flowers up the top are very beautiful - not sure what they represent, possibly datura.  But notice the delicate 'bracts' on the window frames, the elegant lines curving in slightly above the flowers, the way the flowers are 'held' by that band over the stem.  Such lovely attention to detail.

Audrey :  No wonder Art Nouveau is such a popular style.  In our next post we'll show photos of some better known Art Nouveau buildings in Nancy.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

From Avallon to Nancy and Place Stan

Lillian :  Well eventually we had to leave pretty little Avallon and our next port of call was Nancy in Lorraine.
Audrey :  Nancy, Lorraine - both girl's names but the French do not say Nancy like we do. Anyway to get there was something of an adventure which started early in the morning with a big bus ...
Goodbye lovely Avallon
And then we took a train to Paris ... and here we are in the train at Sens

and the country-side going by was very green and pretty ...

Lillian :  We had to change trains and stations in Paris ... all in a hurry but we had time to take a couple of photos behind Gare de l'Est.
This chap has Paris on his Mind ...
Vous êtes ici - you are here
 La pont de la Rue la Fayette

Audrey :  The bridge had a hurt and a very kind person had put big band-aids on the ouchy bit.  Hope the bridge is feeling better now.

Lillian :  After another very fast train ride we were in Nancy.  Our Hotel was just round the corner from the beautiful central square - Place Stanislas; the locals call it Place Stan.  Big & beautiful with lovely buildings all around and everything in very pale limestone.

Audrey : Very pale and in the morning light - very bright.

Lillian : It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is completely car free now - but until 1983 it was a car-park.

Audrey :  Glad that's changed as it is a lovely space used by lots of people and by dogs too ...

Scottie dog exiting Place Stan via the gates on Rue Stanislas

Audrey : Tell us about this Stan person Lillian.
Lillian :  Well, Stanisław I Leszczyński was the King of Poland - but he lost his throne ... not once but twice!
Audrey : Ooo Lady Bracknell moment!  To lose one throne, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness.  Was Stan a very careless person?
Lillian :  I'm not sure but he was a lucky person because his daughter Maria had married Louis XV of France.
Audrey : Ah - Number 15 was the one who reigned for ages and ages wasn't he?
Lillian :  Yes, 58 years - 1715 to 1774.  Now the Duchy of Lorraine had quite a turbulent history - in 1737 it became part of France (again) and Louis XV gave the Duchy to his father-in-law on the understanding that it would go back to the French crown when Stanislaw (Stanislas in French) died. 
Audrey : I should think that Stan was very happy to go from penniless ex-King (x2) to Duke of a nice place like Lorraine.
Lillian : Guess so - and partly to thank Louis he had this beautiful and grand central square built in front of the existing Hotel de Ville (Town Hall).  In the middle of the square there is a statue of Stanislas - here he is with the Hotel de Ville behind. 

Audrey : Hmmm, he is quite a chubby-chops - and didn't his mummy tell him that it is rude to point!
 Lillian :  Ahh but he is pointing to the Arc de Triomphe (or Arc Héré for the architect) and at the top of the Arc is a portrait of Stan's benefactor - Louis XV - with gilded trumpeting Angel (for Victory), Peace as a lady with an olive branch and a baby.
A Crow finds the gilded Angel a convenient place to perch
Audrey : What do those words say?  "Hostium Terror ..." !
Lillian :  It is Latin but I found a translation here ...  
Terror of the enemies
Instigator of the treaties
Glory and love of his people

Audrey :  We have lots of photos of Place Stan - there are marvelous fountains by Barthélémy Guibal in 2 corners.  Neptune ... 
And notice that his Mer-Horse has those finned feet again - like the ones in Brussels & in Versailles on another fountain with Neptune.
We liked the base of this fountain too ...
Lillian :  These fountains are triptychs - with small ones to either side - here is the one to the left of Neptune - babies and sea dragon on a shell.  I've read somewhere that the top-most baby originally had a crab biting his fingers.

 Audrey : Ouch!  In the other corner the fountain is of Amphitrite, Goddess of the Sea and Neptune's wife.

Lillian : The gilded wrought iron work is quite a feature of Place Stan.  Created by Jean Lamour, there are gorgeous gates with lanterns at all the exits and the gilding shines so pretty in the sun-light.

   Audrey :  The urns of flowers are pretty but our Stylist just loved the lanterns with crowns on top - being held in the beaks of roosters.  
Was Stan, the ex (x2) King of Poland being almost More French than the French?  The initials SL could be Stanisław Leszczyński or Stan & Louis.  
   Audrey : Oh well, I'm not sure there is anything wrong in trying to be like the French - très chic!

I'm in front of the gates at the South-East corner and that is the Prefecture building behind.
Lillian :  The lights in the square were also prettily gilded -
Audrey : And they were a great place for playing hide&seek.
Lillian :  All the buildings round Place Stan are quite lovely and - being all built at roughly the same time and from the same pale stone - they make for a lovely harmonious central square.

The buildings have little sculptures along the tops - urns, empty armour and babies.  Here are some babies in detail -

Audrey :  They are holding onto palm trees so they don't fall off - their wings are really too small to work, well they are only babies!

Lillian : One evening there was dancing in Place Stan, in front of the Hotel de Ville - lots of fun.