Once you have seen them, you can no longer not see them. Faces standing above building, private mansion and other architectural facility doors in Paris are called “mascarons”. Now you know the word, let us tell you more about these odd sculptures you can see everywhere.
Voir cette publication sur Instagram
Today’s curiosities first made it to Paris urbanism in the 16th century. Independent guide-lecturer La Voix des Lieux says the mascaron has spread on Paris buildings. First limited “to the most remarkable houses, over the course of time, it took over the most varied places: investment properties, stores, theaters, department stores, hotels, banks and even central offices and car garages”, before slowly fading away in the interwar years.
Human faces, antique deity, as well as caricatures, symbolical or animal representations, Paris mascarons seem to be looking at our modern lives in Paris, and sometimes even mock them. For instance, the mascarons on the Pont-Neuf “are faces of deities from the antique mythologic but like satyrs”, the Musée Carnavalet specifies, follow with a rather scary look the evolution of transport means since the 16th century! Have you seen them already?
In another style, some owners place an order and ask sculptors to immortalize their power and/or wealth with faces adorned with crowns, laurel, fruits and horns of plenty. And some people even get their own faces sculpted. Very handy to give your address away.
With 4380 pictures in over 2,200 places scattered here and there in Paris, and listed by Vincent Petitgirard on MascaronsdeParis, we must admit the Paris mascarons’ shadow people has not delivered all their secrets and are still hiding in the detail…