Monday, April 27, 2015

W = Wrought Iron French Style, French Faves - A to Z Challenge

French wrought iron is one of the most decorative and finely made elements used for architectural interest.

French Wrought Iron and Cartier Store on left,  Paris, by DG Hudson

W = Wrought Iron

Ironwork can be any weapon, artwork, utensil or any architectural feature made of iron which is used for decoration. There are two main types: wrought iron and cast iron.

From medieval times, ironwork has flourished as decoration on doors, windows, balconies, and funereal monuments, and to offer security against robbers or raiders. Ironwork was used in Notre Dame de Paris, the Eiffel Tower, Canterbury and Winchester Cathedrals.

During the Baroque and Rococo periods of the 16th century, ironwork became ornate, elevating it from its more common uses and establishing it a desired architectural addition.

Eiffel Tower Wrought Iron at Dusk by DG Hudson

Wrought iron is quintessential Paris, but also appears in other cities in Canada (in Montreal) and the USA (in New Orleans). 


Conformity and Cleanup

The street plans and distinctive appearance of buildings and wrought iron railings seen in the center of Paris today is largely the result of Georges-Eugène Haussmann's renovation of Paris, which was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III between 1853 and 1870. 

Wrought Iron Railing on Window, Paris Apartment, by DG Hudson


Architect and Designer of Wrought Iron

Hector Guimard (1867 - 1942), a French architect and designer, is now the best known representative of the Art Nouveau style of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and its application to architecture and ironwork.

The building shown below is a work of French designer Hector Guimard, signed in stone.

Hector Guimard's building, WC*

The curious, inventive Guimard was also a precursor of industrial standardization, insofar as he wished to diffuse the new art on a large scale. His greatest success in France – in spite of some scandals – was his famous entrances to the Paris Metro.

The entrance of the Porte Dauphine metro station in the 16th arrondissement of Paris is shown below.

An Entrance to Paris' Metro, by Hector Guimard - WC*

Guimard's fear of war forced him into exile in 1938 and he died, his past accomplishments unheralded.  He is buried in New York City.


Do you like the look of wrought iron embellishing buildings? Have you seen any cities with extensive wrought iron details on its architecture? Did you know the lower edge of the Eiffel Tower had such intricate styling?

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Wiki on Ironwork

Hector Guimard 

Haussmann's Renovation of Paris's_renovation_of_Paris

Image credits

Hector Guimard building

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Porte Dauphine metro station 

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