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Mascarons

2013-09-24

mascarons-1.jpgDo not mix up with a macaroon nor macaroni, "mascaron" is an architectural term, so typical for Paris. They look at you from many buildings, make funny faces, frown, grin, show their horns, toss the eyebrows, scowl at you and follow your steps in the streets of Paris.

In architecture language a "mascaron" is a stone decoration, most often representing a human face, sometimes scary, sometimes half animal half human. Initially the function of mascarons was to repel evil spirits so that they do not get insmascarons-3.jpgide of the building. The word mascaron comes from the Italian Mascharone, derived from the Arabic Mascara, what meant "drollery, joking". Mascarons can be seen often on the sides of the windows, above the entrance gates, on the Haussmanian buildings facades, above the arcs, on the bridges, fountains with a jet of water coming out of their mouths. As indicated in Wikipedia, this architectonic tendency comes to France from Italy. The Italians Rosso Fiorentino and Le Primatice came to Fontainebleau to work for the French king François I. Under the reign of Henry II . the aristocratic house Carnavalet, built in the years 1548-1560, shows the masks above the arc and mascaron gets also to the decoration of the buildings of the square courtyard of the Louvre Palace.

In Paris there are many of them, on each step, in each part of the city, almost in every street. The famous bridge of lovers "Le Pont Neuf" is demascarons-4.jpgcorated by 381 mascarons representing the heads of forest and field divinities from the Antique mythology, various libertines and woodlanders.

In general you can see the faces and with twisted tufts of hair around the face. You can rarely see two mascarons which the same, usually it is the opposite; often they represent the contradiction, such as old age and youth. Seasons of the year have the shape of face surrounded by flowers for spring, autumn is the head with bunches of grapes and winter has the form of an old man.

Soft sun rays of September and October are not so warm anymore. However, when walking in Paris, it is the best time for turning your eyes towards the facades of Haussmanian buildings and observing the games of light and shadow, through which you will notice the smiling and grinning faces of mascarons – faces full of fantasy.

 M.D.D., Paristep
 
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Preview of picture in folder Paris detail | Jan Schinko jr.