Daily Picture 17-Jan-10: “Little Paris” Atmosphere

A representative architectural detail for the prosperous and nonchalant times of La Belle Epoque in Romania when the "Little Paris" architecture (provincially interpreted French late c19th styles) became popular throughout the country. The rooftop allegorical group embelishes the 1890s building of the Centre Culturel Français de Iasi, NE Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

The architectural ornament formed by the two cherubs feeding from an abundant fruit bowl (and also fittingly crowned by two live collared doves) embellishes a landmark building in Iasi, the former second capital of Romania. It is an epitome of what I call the “Little Paris” atmosphere that permeated the country as a whole in the last decades of the c19th until the Great War. The French architectural styles of that period ranging from eclectic to Second Empire or Beaux Art were assiduously followed in a picturesque provincial manner in the far away Romania, where Bucharest became known as the “Little Paris” of the Balkans. That was not of course restricted to the capital, but a myriad of other towns throughout the country were endowed with beautiful such buildings. Iasi, the old capital of the principality of Moldova and for a while a second capital of unified Romania in the 1850s, was an worthy rival of Bucharest. The city today still preserves numerous and excellent quality examples of “Little Paris” architecture. I took the photograph above in the autumn of the last year and was amazed to discover that the artefact is identical with one which I encountered in Bucharest and also wrote a post about it on this blog in August ‘o9: https://historo.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/daily-picture-29-aug-‘09/ It shows the popularity of the style and that there was practically an industry producing those artefacts. That is also an indication that the buildings in that style were not produced by high level architects, but picturesque pattern reproductions according to the tastes of a clientèle, which was in its starting phases of amassing a more subtle cultural baggage. The emergence of highly professional architects and sophisticated patrons became a reality after the Great War when the Neo-Romanian style became widely popular together with the international modern styles.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

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