Article published in "La Science et la Vie" in 1925
This 125-metre gallery, which is somewhat like a renewal of the arcades of the Rue de Rivoli, serves as a framework for the presentation of twenty-one shops, each with its own character.
A brief examination of these shops, when they were submitted to the jury, showed that in general they would be very different in tone and generally violent. It was therefore necessary to look for a setting, and only a setting, whose tone would not harm any of the exhibitors, but, on the contrary, would enhance them.
The architect Sauvage, who designed the gallery, used glossy black as a background for the decoration, in order to obtain the impression of a kind of lacquer, slightly enhanced with red and heavily charged with gold.
The decoration is completed by basins of flowers, resting on sumptuous mosaics by Gentil and Bourdet, and baskets of luminous fruit silhouetted on the frieze that crowns the gallery.
Article from the magazine "La construction moderne" of 6 September 1925
A long gallery of shops was built on the left side of the Esplanade des Invalides to hide the station buildings and the huge opening where the tracks end. Their appearance would have been very unpleasant in an exhibition of decorative arts. This long construction was entrusted to the sympathetic and distinguished architect, Mr. Sauvage.
This 125-metre long gallery, which is somewhat like a renewal of the arcades of the Rue de Rivoli, serves as a framework for the presentation of 21 boutiques, each with its own character.
A brief examination of these shops at the time of their presentation to the Jury showed Mr. Sauvage that they would be very different in tone and generally violent. It was therefore necessary to seek a setting whose tone would not harm any of the exhibitors' works, but on the contrary would bring out their value.
M. Sauvage dared, as he himself said, for it is a bold move, to use glossy black as a decorative background. This beautiful lacquered black highlights the bright tones of the shops and in our opinion no other colour could have been used as a colour of opposition to an ensemble as varied as that of these 21 shop fronts.
Unfortunately, the photograph we have taken of the front of the gallery does not give an accurate picture because the lens distorts the perspective and makes the second plane too far away. The width of the gallery between the porticoes and the shops is 2 m. 20.
The pillars of the bays of this gallery have broadly rounded edges on the outer and inner faces, their fronts are flush with the upper part of the bays; they are hollowed out and lined on the inside with a cement bench. These pillars are decorated with an openwork gilded lattice panel, decorated with sculpted and gilded heurs. This panel is crowned by a sort of thick canopy, half octagonal in shape, i.e. with sides, surmounted by a pretty cream-coloured sculpted motif composed of flowers and foliage falling over the edges; these motifs are embellished with a sort of necklace made up of small cubic pearls that are made luminous at night.
On the inside, the panel has its trellis and flowers similar, but in a bright red tone, known as that of the whole decoration. The pillars are finished at the top with right angles, below which five large flat red depressions complete their ornamentation. The inner part is bordered by a large, half-octagonal cement planter, decorated with richly coloured foliage and flowers. At the top of each upper canopy is a median panel, gold and red diapered with very tight elements that stand out well against the black background, this carved and painted diapered panel decorates the entire upper part of the porticoes. Large and delicate scrolls of gold foliage with red parts and other red scrolls with leaves bordered and edged with gold spread out in large volutes over the entire gallery, giving it a rich and particularly graceful effect. The criticism is made by some visitors who consider (sic) that this black lacquered ensemble enhanced with red and gold is Japanese whereas all the elements of decoration are purely modern, but this is a layman's appreciation; artists and connoisseurs find this large gallery by M. Sauvage really very pretty. The large scrolls enriched with faceted cabochons and foliage of a highly original composition have a beautiful brilliance that does not detract from the effect of the shops. The ceiling is at the height of the lintels of the bays and ends in a curve on the side of the shops; it is black with large, wide and hollow lines of the same red colour and decorated at the right of the pillars by two small square gold panels, decorated with golden scrolls of slight projection recalling the large scrolls of the exterior.
The floor of the gallery is made of porcelain stoneware mosaic representing a series of large and small blue crowns with brown and red rays extending from their hangers on a cream background. This beautiful mosaic by Messrs. Gentil and Bourdet, with its extremely pale tones, so as not to detract from the tone of the shops, is a most pleasing effect.
As previously mentioned, there are twenty-one of these shops, offering a great variety in construction and decoration, and together they constitute a real lesson; we shall present those of the "Siegel" and "Viacroze" houses in a future issue.
Article from the magazine "La construction moderne" of 4 October 1925
In a previous article we described the Galerie des Boutiques, designed by the architect Sauvage and located on the left of the Esplanade des Invalides. This gallery comprises twenty-one shops, two of which are end-to-end with a gabled roof, the other nineteen have a front width of 3 m. 80, which does not allow some of them to be as wide as necessary for decoration. The latter include the "Etablissements Siegel" and the "Maison Viacroze".
The Siegel Shop
The shop of the "Etablissements Siegel" was designed by the architect Pierre Petit and executed by these establishments. Its façade is divided into two equal parts, one occupied by the shop window, the other by the entrance door. The shop front has no base and no skirting board, but a low mosaic threshold that extends and forms a slight band at the right of the shop window. The front is in stucco, almost white in colour. The glass is almost flush with the front and is framed by a small square sectioned strip of hammered and silvered iron bordering a slight recessed moulding with a bevel about three centimetres wide. The whole is flush with the façade by a quarter circle limited at its lower part by an extremely simple modern ornamentation crowning the front and composed of large two-sided elements alternated by other small-sided elements in a slight recess and cut in the stucco. The upper panel of the shop window is soberly decorated with a small square ornament, about ten centimetres square, framed by a slightly recessed fillet bearing three wide, pointed rays crossed by two similar rays and projecting a few millimetres, this ornament is itself cut into the stucco like the crowning band.
The door is surmounted by an almost round pediment projecting seven centimetres in green stucco almost as light as celadon and veined in the same darker colour. The pediment, without any moulding, is pierced in its central part by a long, narrow opening with a slight recessed fillet forming a frame lined with frosted glass on which the name "Siegel" stands out in modern wrought iron letters, hammered and gilded. This pediment forming a lintel without ornament is supported by four octagonal stucco pilasters of the same green colour, without any capitals but surmounted by four octagonal elements of 15 centimetres in height in cream stucco similar to that of the frontage, of the same size as the pilasters having their edges placed in the axis of the faces of the pilasters to break the lines and the forms of these pilasters. These pilasters limit on each side a rounding of the same cream stucco, decorated with small upright bands with two sides separated by a fillet of about 1 m. 30 high, crowned by a rounded cream band, limited at its lower part by another flat and narrow band in wrought iron and silver decorated with modern triangular elements. These large rounded sections linking the front to the door are topped by a glass panel forming a small display case on each side of the door. These two windows and that of the large display case are bordered at the top by a frosted section approximately 15 cm high with engraved ornaments of modern composition. At night, these frosted bands with engraved ornaments have a beautiful luminous effect on the illuminated display case; this effect combines very well with that of the open rectangular panel in the pediment above the door, on which the name "Siegel" stands out against a white frosted and illuminated glass. An attractive wrought-iron grille, very simple in composition, but with an attractive octagonal panel with wrought-iron ornamentation depicting flowers and foliage, protects the glass of the door opening onto the entrance, bounded by white roundels and celadon green pilasters. The entrance is thus well ordered, leaving sufficient width to put a fairly large display in the window, in this case a Siegel mannequin dressed in an elegant negligee.
The interior of the shop, including the ceiling, is of a fairly dark grey colour with display cases containing new mannequins of the house, women in rich dresses, men in formal wear.
In the outer windows, which are placed on the overhangs of the shop, are small pieces composed by Siegel, which are used for the presentation of objects in department stores' displays.
It is unfortunate that the dimensions of the shop front did not allow the architect's talent to present something more substantial, as Siegel's company specialised in the construction of department stores. To judge the work of this firm, architects should go and admire its main installations in Paris. We can mention the department stores in the capital, especially the perfume departments of the new Bon Marché shops, the storefronts and installations of the Belle Jardinière, the storefront of the "Ribby tailor" on Boulevard Montmartre, those of the "Armand" shoes, of the "Adda furs" shop on Boulevard Haussmann, of the "Selleries Réunies", 21, Boulevard des Capucines, of "Chady", 52, Boulevard Haussmann, of "Diani", jeweller, 52, Boulevard Haussmann, etc. The big banks: Anglo-American, 19, rue Scribe, Wetsminter Bank, 22, place Vendôme, etc. There is a remarkable artistic effort in all of this, and we know how much elegance and charm the modern decor of our streets owes to the shop fronts.
The Viacroze Boutique
Viacroze also has a facility that does not allow him to display the full range of products of his company, which deals with exterior and, above all, interior decoration with new processes and modern specialities such as Tekko, a wallpaper comparable to silk fabrics and absolutely washable. Naturally, Viacroze used products from his own house to set up his shop. The shop is attractive and consists of three side windows with recessed ceilings, forming a kind of porch with an elegant entrance door.
The solid panels placed in the direction of the shop's façade are in painted stucco and allow for a very good presentation of the small inscriptions giving a discreet and excellent advertisement to the Viacroze house. The side windows, like the panels, are without mouldings and surmounted, like them, by openings lined with white and frosted cathedral glass with wrought iron ornamentation forming a modern decoration representing flowers and foliage. The showcases and panels in painted stucco and these openings lined with frosted cathedral glass and decorated with wrought iron are surmounted by one-way glass panes over the entire height of the storefronts, providing good lighting for the shop. The small stepped ceilings of the recesses are also fitted with glass. The glass in the ceilings and in the side recesses, as well as the small wrought iron panels, are bordered by elegant ribbed and ornamented mouldings, finished with plastic-metal strips.
The upper part of the windows of the first bay and the ceiling of this bay on the side of the shop front are covered with an absolutely curious glass by Jeannin, which caught our attention in a special way. This glass has the appearance of a silvery and pearl-grey silk fabric with long bands and ornaments on which flowers with black centres stand out; on closer examination, it is even more astonishing, because the fabric seems to be made of tiny pearls and it is even difficult to recognise that it is glass. At night this glass is illuminated, its appearance is even richer and it retains its curious originality. It is one of the newest productions we have seen at the Exhibition and its use may bring richness to the decoration of some shops and interiors.
The door with two very narrow leaves trimmed with glass and made of wrought iron is simple and pretty with a wrought iron transom forming a line with an ornament of large roses and foliage on a background of frosted cathedral glass. It is limited by two pedestals with a band framing it and surmounted by three rounded bands forming a pediment; the sides are decorated with a long panel in plastic metal decorated with modern flowers and leaves in relief in a brown patina copper tone.
The ensemble rises above a low mosaic threshold in greyish violet, connected to the steps by large rounded sections also in the same mosaic with a golden yellow passage in the same porcelain stoneware.
The architects Guerbois and Dambrun, who designed this beautiful shop, were able to create two small rooms in the recesses, i.e. a pretty office and, on the left, a storeroom for the objects used for cleaning the shop.
The interior of the shop is also in painted stucco with a rectangular domed ceiling framed by two rounded edges of gilded copper plastic metal. The shop has niches each containing, to avoid clutter, an armchair covered in Benedictus brocaded silk and display cabinets where Viacroze papers and canvases from the Landy house and Benedictus silk fabrics are displayed. Narrow panels of painted stucco with engraved and gilded foliage separate the niches from the display cases, which are topped by a luminous panel of frosted white cathedral glass enhanced by gilded ornaments and plastic metal patinas. A quarter-round band forming a cornice around this piece and fitted with a hidden line of electric bulbs gives a very subdued light. In the showcases are also exhibited ceramics as numerous as they are beautiful, among which "a bat woman" with a warm and matte brown body, wings and large ears made of black and shiny glazed fabric by Miss Lyée de Beleau who creates and executes art objects with a very original talent.