Friday, 18 November 2011

Sab's Top Ten Curious Paris Corners: No.1 ~ "Lady In Red"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Corners Statues

Sab's Top Ten Curious Paris Corners
No.1: "Lady In Red" ~ Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

Wander around these sacred streets a moment, especially the older quarters, and raise your eyes from time to time as you round a corner or two.

Peek-a-boo! There's sometimes someone looking down on you. Some would say 'looking after' us. 'Guarding over' us would be pushing my irreligious tendencies a little too far, but whatever the origins of these charming corner curiosities, it's always a pleasure to discover them.

And discover them you will in the most unexpected places, which is just one more reason to wander around Paris with your nose in the air, at the danger of slip-sliding away when you step in something much more down to earth.

Once again, thinking back on all the interesting corner phenomena I've seen in my 20-odd years in the city, I'm a little worried as to which approach to take with this series. Should I limit it to statues in niches only or go wider to include amazing mosaics, ancient shop ensignia, historic timepieces and more?

Only time will tell, in fact, but one thing's for sure, there'll be a surprise around every corner in this Paris Top 10.

Sab's Top Ten Curious Paris Corners
No.1 ~ "Lady In Red"

In my haste and desire to get this first beautiful little red statue pic out there and into your colletive eyeballs, I realise I have very little to actually say about it. But that in a way is good, because it brings me back to the original essence of all my Paris Top 10 series: pick a simple and well-defined Paris theme and offer you around ten pleasing examples of it without drowning you in too many words.

Obviously I haven't succeeded, as far as the syllabic soaking is concerned, as I can't seem to shut my fingers up once they get going. It's still good, though, for me to remember that the main subject of each posting in my top tens is, in the end, the item itself, and that it's neither necessary nor desirable to give the history of the building, the road or even the entire quarter, which I'm sometimes tempted to attempt when I get a bit carried away.

So who is this modest, if slightly showy lady in red?

Probably a representation of the Christian religion's virgin icon, which is fairly common around the city in one form or another.

I don't think she's original, as in 'old', meaning that the building with its intriguing little statue protecting nook is almost certainly several centuries older than the lady herself. After all, fiercely anti-religious royalist-haters gave pretty short shrift to anything pertaining to the object of their ire back in those days. Suffice it to say that not many flimsy slivers of iconic stone survived the anger of revolutionary gangs on the rampage.

Things calm down again of course, and lost icons get resurrected, or simply replaced. As in the case of our scarlet harlet. OK then, in reality our rather washed out wifey upstairs (see the second photo on the left, not the suped-up first one, and even the latter's been cheered up a bit).

I shouldn't forget the intriguing inscription below the statue, which must have referred to an earlier, long gone version, which says Ecce mater tua, or 'behold your mother' in Latin. Which is a bit silly really, because there's no way my mother, decent Scots border lass as she is, would ever be caught posing around the corner of a building in one of the oldest but also gayest streets in Maraisdom in a bright red dress...

So there you have it, something of the story of this marvellously eye-catching little quirk and a worthy start to my newest series of Paris curiosities. And as for what's coming next... watch this corner.

Discover all my curious Paris corners... 


* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

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