Back - List of Pavilions

Press - Expo Paris 1889

Press at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1889
Architect(s) : Alfred Vaudoyer

The duty of the press is always to arrive first. It has made a point of fulfilling this duty even more so at the Exhibition than elsewhere, and the first building on the Champ de Mars to be completely finished, in terms of construction and fitting out, is the Press Pavilion.

It is true that it is a modest building, since the three buildings of which it is composed have a total development of only 55 metres and a single floor, but it is nonetheless beautiful in appearance, and it does credit to its architect, Mr. Alfred Vaudoyer.

It is understandable that a building with a 55-metre long façade, a depth of only 10 metres and a single storey height, offered few architectural resources. But M. Vaudoyer is above all the architect of facades, and those he built in 1878 in the Rue des Nations were noted among the most picturesque.

He knew very well how to take advantage of the strip of land he had to dispose of: the façade, cut out by projections and forebodies, offers not the uniformity one might have feared, but pleasant effects of perspective in the middle of which the central pavilion, which is, strictly speaking, the Pavilion of the Press, stands out well.

I said that the pavilion was set up very quickly. I must add that it worked by itself, because most of the big manufacturers sent something.

Basically, these generous donors are clever people, who know perfectly well that small gifts maintain friendship, and that they will recoup their disbursements through a well-felt publicity, dictated by gratitude. It is, if you like, publicity paid for in goods, but it must be admitted that these goods are remarkable.

The central pavilion is covered in glazed tiles. The white façade is decorated with sculptures by M. Tibault and mosaics (the inscription and the two medallions that flank it) donated by M. Facchina.

Also included in the exterior ornamentation, although they were intended more for interior decoration, are the beautiful stained glass windows specially made for the Pavilion de la Presse, and donated by the Champigneulle company of Bar-lc-Duc.

Here is the façade of the pavilion situated on the edge of the Avenue de la Bourdonnais, at one end of the Eiffel Tower park, and flanked by a special garden that M. Alphand had planted for the private use of French and foreign journalists.

A beautifully crafted gate from the workshops of M. André, of Neuilly, gives access to the pavilion. This gate is a gift... Moreover, as I have already said, it should be called the Pavilion of Gifts, and of all the interior decoration, of all the furnishings, only one chimney had to be paid for, I believe.

This door is flanked by two enormous sphinxes and beautiful vases. More gifts: these ones, from the Société des granits et porphyres des Vosges...

The ground floor, raised by a few steps, consists of a reception room, a committee room, a correspondence room and a telephone room.

It is crossed by a large hallway, which connects all these rooms, and links the central pavilion with the other two.
This hallway is very beautiful, and it is here that we find the two large earthenware panels of the Mortreux house.
These two panels, admirably successful, are the work of a young artist, Mr. Lionel Royer, who does not devote himself exclusively to ceramics, since in 1885 he obtained a medal at the Salon with a very beautiful painting, the Family.
The panel on the right represents the Criticism. Ah, but not the pedantic, snarling critic with blue glasses and a big belly. Not at all, it is a beautiful young woman crowned with holly... - who rubs it in, stings it in! - and writing on a strip of parchment that she unrolls. It's not very reassuring, what she has already written on her parchment: "Unguem time, beware of my claw!" but there will be any pleasure in being criticized by such a charming person.
In the other panel, Pansy is symbolised by a "beautiful brown woman, who raises her eyes to the sky as if asking for inspiration. Her left hand holds a book. The whole figure gives off a great and calm impression of austerity and power, and we have no doubt that the guests of the Pavilion of the Press will feel some good in contemplating this philosophical emblem.
In any case, these two panels are magnificent proofs of modern ceramics, very masterfully treated by the master enameller Leborgne, who runs the painting workshops of the Mortreux house, in the Parc de Montsouris...

There are other beautiful pieces of ceramics in the Pavilion of the Press; it was natural, moreover, to apply to the decoration of a building devoted to this essentially modern thing, the Press, an art which has received its resources from modern industry, a completely new art, and which, in the architectural history of this century, will perhaps represent the only decorative progress that has been made.

All the fireplaces in the Pavilion are of glazed earthenware, and all are more beautiful for each other.
The one in the committee room is perhaps the most original, with its bouquets in monochrome on a bluish background. It has a lovely soft note, contrasting with the bright paintings on the walls.

But of all these fireplaces, the one that stands out the most, because it is executed on gigantic dimensions, in cloisonné relief enamels, is the one in the correspondence room, also called the reading room.

In the committee room, a superb mirror donated by M. Bos et fils; bronzes donated by MM. Ramgo frères; a clock donated by M. Passerat; furniture donated by Damon et Cie, make up a set of furniture which did not cost a penny, and yet which only millionaires could easily afford.
And it is like this everywhere, both on the ground floor and on the first floor, where there are two private rooms, one for the French press, the other for the foreign press.

The library is stocked with everything one could wish for in the way of encyclopaedias, dictionaries, treatises, atlases, scientific books, etc., etc.

Hachette has provided all this. Not even the window blinds are a gift.

For some installations, these unparalleled suppliers, who furnish princely and do not send invoices, have nevertheless found a way to compete with each other. For example, the lighting consists of paraffin lamps donated by Mr. Bernard, gas appliances donated by Mr. Beau, and electric lamps donated by the Edison Company.

If journalists are not enlightened on the best means of spreading light, it will not be for lack of a variety of lamps.

Of the two pavilions which flank the Press pavilion, one is not completely new, it has already been used at the Champs-Elysées for some exhibition, but it is no worse for it, and it has been very well adapted to its new purpose.
It consists of a room 17 metres long and a little over 8 metres wide, which, by means of movable partitions and frames that can be raised to form a veranda, can be further enlarged for the days when representatives of the French press meet with those of the foreign press.
On the other side of the Press Pavilion is the Post and Telegraph Pavilion, which is partly reserved for the press, but which will also have counters open to the public.
These three pavilions make up a whole that is certainly not monumental - the architect had neither the intention nor the means to do so - but which is not lacking in elegance or originality.

©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition - Henri Anry.