Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios: "Architectural Abomination"

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

The title says it all: quirks and curiosities. And as luck would have it, Paris is packed with them; you just have to know where to look!

In this on-going series I offer you some hand picked, photographed and commented oddities which particularly interested me, and I hope will do the same for you.

I'm an avid collector of such items so any comments and suggestions you may have would be very welcome. So, without further ado, let's get straight onto...

Sab's Paris Quirks & Curios
1st Arrondissement: Quirk 7 ~ "Architectural Abomination"

When you think about the Louvre you generally think architectural perfection, don't you? Those legendary courtyards loving cultivated over the centuries with each successive king or emperor respecting the original design to the letter.

The result is an eye-opening marvel and truly one of the great spectacles (especially with the pyramid) of modern day Paris.

But, in all those centuries, it was inevitable that not everything would go according to plan.

Let me let you into a little secret. One particular part of the Louvre is a bit of a disaster. Have you seen it? In the magestic, well, empiric Cour Napoleon of all places.

You need to be looking pretty closely to see it though, but when you do there's no mistaking it - a big oops if ever there was one.

Look more closely at this photo on the left, a close-up of the picture above, next to the archway leading through to the Cour Carrée. Two winged figures, a modestly dressed hammer-wielder on the left and a bare-breasted damsel on the right.

So far, so good. But then look down at their feet. You can see it more clearly in the photos below. Between them are the remains of a bas relief looking very sorry for itself indeed.

On the right a poor chap has lost his arm and his head behind the drapes of the angel above him. A stubby leg completes the unhappy picture.

On the left an even weedier naked female figure looking like something from a first year art student's sketch book reclines in an absurd position on who knows what - an anvil? - clutching a strange pointy implement. I'm sure there's a rational explanation for it, really.

What's surprising isn't that certain parts of the Louvre have been renovated and even modified - given the numerous changes of regime the contrary would be almost unthinkable. What is unexpected is that they would have done such a shoddy job of it.

You'd have thought they'd have taken the time to sand down the old design before shoving the new one on top. I'd love to have been there when they were discussing how to go about the work, and if the king or emperor at the time ever looked at it and thought, God, what a mess - bring me the head of the person who did this!

The Louvre holds other secrets along the same lines which I'll bring you in due course, if I haven't done so already. Watch this space and let me know about any architectural disasters or anomalies you've spotted around the city - I'd love to hear about them!

* 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...

© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

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