VOL. 12 NO. 3
|The Independent Traveler's Newsletter
|A Franco-American Portrait
Ici et Là
& France's Loire
Sculptor Alfred Janniot - A Trans-Atlantic Art Déco Giant
by Arthur Gillette
Alfred Auguste Janniot was born in 1889 to a modest Montmartre family. His father was a barber/hairdresser, and some of his manual shape-modeling ability may well have rubbed off on the youngster who, from the age of eight, enjoyed crafting little plaster figurines.
Admitted to the Paris Beaux Arts School at age 18, Janniot had to interrupt his studies for front-line military service during World War I. But once demobilized, he entered and tied for the prestigious Prix de Rome competition that enabled him to spend several years at the renowned Villa Médicis in Rome, where ~ lodged and boarded ~ he was able to study at leisure classical and Renaissance works with which the Italian capital overflows. It was then and there that he acquired a taste for the classical tradition of joining architecture and sculpture with a monumental flair, a link that was to become his trademark.
Janniot returned to France in 1924, having been awarded a commission for the stunning Monument aux Morts (Monument to the War Dead) in Nice, and just in time to take part in the 1925 Paris International Decorative Arts Exhibition, which gave the angular Art Déco style decisive visibility and popularity.
trans-Atlantic and decidedly modern dimension entered his work in 1927
when he was entrusted with part of the interior decoration of the luxury
ocean liner, Ile de France, which specialized in whisking thousands of
passengers to and fro between New York and Le Havre. Eight years later,
he executed a massive gilt fresco for the banquet hall of that other trans-Atlantic
jewel, the Normandie. Gracing the liner's banquet hall, it represented
the province of Normandy along the Seine Valley between Paris and the Channel.
Janniot at work on the Normandie fresco
Déco's heyday, the 1930s, saw evermore commissions for Janniot.
In Paris alone, for example, he created (1) bas-reliefs for the 1,200 square
meter façade ~ the largest frieze in Europe ~ of the National Museum
of African and South Sea Arts (1931, later renamed Colonial Museum, and
recently re-inaugurated as the City of Immigration History), (2) mural
bas-reliefs to enliven the rather austere Tokyo Palace (1937, Paris Museum
of Modern Art) and, the same year, (3) worked at the Palais de Chaillot.
The 1934 Sun Fountain in Nice was perhaps his major provincial creation.
> to read about the annual autumn event that takes place in the Sologne forest of France - the Brame.
> to take an historic tour of the charming ancient city of Senlis just to the northeast of Paris.
> and enjoy exploring the sunny Poitou-Charentes region of France with us in this edition's regional feature.
> to learn more about the Gastronomy of the Loire with château owner Corina Clemence.
> and wander around the City of Light as we review the visually and literally outstanding Paris Neighborhood Cookbook!
ENIGMAS . . . A Quiz on Your
Knowledge of Historic Paris
by Arthur Gillette
Question from the last issue: What and where is the oldest tavern existing in Paris?
Answer: Certainly not Le Procope, near l'Odéon, despite its wall plaque that claims it's the oldest in the world. A much more likely candidate is La Réserve de Quasimodo, located on rue de la Colombe practically in the shadow of Notre-Dame Cathedral - owned not all that long ago by the Austrian-born but naturalized American Madeline childrens book series author Ludwig Bemelmans - which saw the light of day as La Taverne de St-Nicolas in...1240.
Our new question: Who asked "Is Paris burning?" and why?
Gillette, and take advantage of his amazing knowledge of Paris
[See the answer
to this edition's question
SPONSORING THIS ISSUE
is one of France's metropolitan jewels. We have just discovered
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