Article published in "La Science et la Vie" in 1925
A huge gate of honour has been built in the Avenue Nicolas-II, between the Grand and Petit Palais. The architects were Messrs Ventre and Favier, who called on the assistance of the ironworker Brandt for the entire ornamental part in wrought iron.
The architectural plan adopted is as follows: numerous entrances allow the crowd to spread out in different directions, while a single, large exit allows it to spread out without jostling towards the Avenue des Champs-Elysées.
The main elements of the door are pylons that we would have liked to have been made of steel, supporting basins that we would have liked to have been made of crystal, and linked together by a lacework that should have been made of iron.
Unfortunately, the whole thing could only be executed in staff; otherwise, it would have cost millions to create such an ensemble without cheating on the nature of the materials used.
But staff lends itself admirably to make-up and, after some curious tests, we managed to find a patina that would give the perfect illusion of metal for the pylons and the ironwork. The white material of the staff lends itself admirably, moreover, to an imitation of crystal that will satisfy the most demanding.
Article from the magazine "La construction moderne" of September 13, 1925
The Porte d'honneur, designed by architects Henry Favier and André Ventre, stands at the end of Avenue Nicolas-II and at the end of the Pont Alexandre-III on the Cours-la-Reine; it has been reproduced so often that for the sake of variety we are giving a photograph taken from inside the Exhibition.
M. Edgard Brandt, who collaborated in its creation, would certainly have preferred a more monumental gate, a more important ensemble with stone pylons and pedestals that would have been worthy of real ironwork; unfortunately, the credits granted did not allow for a more grandiose design and the use of richer and consequently more expensive materials. Instead, plasterwork was used and the Brandt workshops' production of real ironwork was limited to a few small grilles.
The layout of the ensemble is curious, since this monumental doorway is formed on each side by steps that form a frame for a square in front of the entrance gate through which cars can enter and visitors can leave. The two sides of the ensemble are naturally symmetrical and have the same layout. In the most advanced step coming from the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and facing this avenue is a room, a sort of office for the sale of catalogues and the distribution of tickets issued to holders of Exhibition vouchers, in the successive steps there are three doors, each with two turnstiles for the entry of visitors. This simple and ingenious arrangement thus makes it possible, on busy days, to channel the crowd on each side into three streams entering the Exhibition, not dispersing inside on a single front, but on successive fronts. On certain days when the crowds were enormous, this fortunate conception made it possible to observe the effectiveness of Messrs. Favier and Ventre's plan to avoid jostling and congestion of visitors at the entrance. The exit of the latter is carried out, as we have said, by the central part closed by a low gate.
The decoration is based almost exclusively on a single element consisting of a spray of water falling into basins and flowing in successive falls; this decorative element is used in different shapes and materials.
The tone is that of silver without any other colour; this tone is too monotonous for such a large ensemble; we would have preferred it with some golden parts and it is also here that we notice - but too late - how preferable the idea of stone pylons was.
The parts that make up the whole are framed by sixteen pylons similar to semi-cylindrical upright bands separated by fillets, with a kind of capital formed by a band of long, rounded dentils. These sixteen pylons are crowned by an ornamental motif representing water rising in sprays and falling from three basins in long falls formed by lines of vertical bands.
The office is located in the furthest recess and is accessed through an open door in a large first-class frame decorated with large glass panels by the master Lalique, each of which is decorated with a basin, a spray and transparent waterfalls and large pearl bands, also transparent, on a milky background. The room has a large niche with a grey mosaic counter enhanced by black and gold mosaics. The facings of the niche, the room and the ceiling are bronze-coloured, decorated with engraved catalogues and plans of the Exhibition, set against a background of large coins bearing the Gallic cockerel.
The lateral sides of the recesses are formed by a large base supporting a large grille, executed in staff, in a silver tone like the whole. This grid is formed by elements composed at the base of a basin, a jet and waterfalls, and continues throughout the height with the same jet and the same waterfalls but without basins. This grille is surmounted by a band with long, rounded dentils, similar to those on the pylons, bordered on the sides by modern ornaments and on the lower part by large scales of a new kind and of attractive composition. Finally, the lateral sides are surmounted, at each of their ends, by a small crowning motif always representing a spray of water falling into basins.
The large office entrance window and the three turnstile doors are surmounted by a large panel sculpted in bas-relief, also silvered and patinated. These four panels, by M. Navarre, represent metal and the forge, ceramics and the kilns, wood and carpenters, and finally the arts or commerce. The extremely modern composition seems strange to us, the naked torsos of the workers look like their trousers, the carpenters plane with ardour and the shavings rise up in somewhat frightening jagged volutes. The fourth panel is even more curious, the figures are executed with a great deal of carelessness and highlight the more finely executed bowler hat of a gentleman to whom three women, in single file, are presenting objets d'art; on the right another figure represents both a lady in a large coat with an extraordinary hat or a worker in a smock wearing a cap and large clogs. A flat canopy, wide with small bets, crowns each of these sculpted panels, its thickness also decorated with the thin dentils applied to the whole.
From the axis of each door and parallel to the lateral faces of the redans runs a wrought iron railing executed by Mr. Brandi with supports ending in a motif forming a spray and waterfalls. The well-composed low grille of the main entrance, black with gold highlights, is matched by a large wrought iron motif embellished with gold separating the two turnstiles placed at each door.
The ensemble is finally bordered on the outside by a hedge and lawn that contrast well with the silver architecture.
In conclusion, it can be said that the architects Henry Favier and André Ventre made excellent use of the limited funds available to them.