top of page
  • Writer's pictureParisian Niche

Angel in the Outfield (Well, Rue) ... of Paris!


image: Christina Consolé

As promised, P'Nicher, today we will cover my favorite relief to be found on the streets of Paris - and it's rather a hidden (yet heavenly) jewel.


Image: Christina Consolé

The Angel of Turbigo (located at 57, rue de Turbigo, 75003) is a 9 meter (30 foot, 3 story) high angelic relief adorning the façade of an otherwise typically uniform Haussmannian Parisian building.


She stands angelically by, reaching from the first floor to the forth floor (that's the second to the fifth floor for us Americans).


While the building itself is the handiwork of French architect, Eugène Demangeat, and erected in 1860 during the major renovation period of Baron Haussmann, this heavenly apparition is the design work of Monsieur Auguste Emile Delange, who was educated at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts et Architecture in Paris.




Image: Christina Consolé

It is worth noting that this design was originally submitted in 1851 in a fine arts competition as a delightful addition to a lighthouse! The angel (and recall that his name is Delange, so was he cheekily self- promoting?) was going to be set to guide sailors and navigators at sea safely to their home ports.


Eight years later, she was destined for rue de Turbigo, where she has safeguarded her residents since...



image: Christina Consolé

In researching our angel, I kept asking myself, is this actually a relief or a caryatid?


Wait, what? Carrie who?

The word caryatid stems from the Greek language. The term karyatides means "maidens of Karyai," an ancient town on the Peloponnese (a peninsula in southern Greece.).


Simply put, a caryatid is a sculpted feminine figure which would replace a column as a structural architectural support.


She would normally be wearing a long tunic with additional adornments. And while there are over 500 caryatids in Paris, our angel is the highest in Paris.

So... relief or caryatid?


image: Christina Consolé

Well, there are camps for both sides of the discussion.


One one hand, of course, she is a relief, as she is affixed to the outside of the building.


On the other hand, a caryatid would offer structural support, and while it looks like she does support, she appears to be more decorative. Or perhaps she offers more support than meets the eye...


As for P'Niche's opinion? She is both!


image: Christina Consolé

But, what is she doing here? What's her divine story?


Ahhhh, P'Nicher, the debate lives on, and you know a true Parisienne always likes to leave a little bit of intrigue to be discovered...


This mysterious deity has gone by several names: "The Genius," "The Angel of the Bizarre," and "The Woman with the Bag."


The Woman with the Bag makes sense with this wink of a reference with the small bourse or purse she clutches in her right hand - typical to the style during the Second Empire, and perhaps also a reference to Charity and giving. Or perhaps it's a more capitalistic nod to Mercury, the god of Commerce? Le Hmm!


image: Christina Consolé

Some believe that her bag is a symbol and acknowledgment of a man who gained a large sum of money after following advice received from an angel in a dream. Hmm!


Now, in her left hand, however, you see a sprig of myrrh - a clear nod to those Greek goddesses who adorn and decorate the Acropolis caryatids in Athens, Greece.


Myrrh is also used in the creation of essential oils and incenses, as well as perfumes and was offered as a gift at the birthplace of Christ.


The bead necklace, ribbon sash, tassel earrings, and Grecian style gown were included in the artist's original drawings and relate closely to the neighborhoods inhabitants.


image: Christina Consolé

This area of town is adjacent to Sentier, Paris' garment and trimmings quartier, where the passementerie (or what we would call "the Garment District") was located.


Many view this angel (and her attire) to be quite intentional - mindful and protective of her fashion forward townsfolk.


While rue de Turbigo traverses the Saint Martin district (sooooooo close to Marais, but just misses the aristocratic mark there), the inhabitants of these palais collectifs were quite chic and well known about town.


Think Royal B-List - but make it fashion!



image: Christina Consolé

Parisian residents of 57, rue du Turbigo, certainly would have included those fashionable titans (get it?) of the time.


Included in this roster would have been (but certainly not limited to):


- a textile merchant / tradesman

- a tie / cravat merchant

- a high end jeweler / jewel craftsman

- a luxury milliner

- a sought after corset creator

- an aristocratic seamstress

- a fabric designer / material dyer

- an interior designer


With neighbors such as these, you can only imagine the day to day grandeur!




image: Christina Consolé

Those lucky enough to pass through those doors (and this entryway) would be fortunate enough to state that their apartment home included three (3!) bedrooms, a salon, a dining room, an antechamber, and fireplaces galore.


That's to say nothing of those who were lucky enough to have a wrought iron fenced balcony overlooking the bustling city street.



image: guideposts.com

So whether or not we will ever crack the mystery of this charming angel, this is for sure, she is a treasured jewel to behold and has been faithfully (if discreetly) watching over Parisians for over 150 years.


It's safe to say, she is going nowhere anytime soon, so come and take a peek beneath her wings and she if she whispers to you her true story!



image: Christina Consolé

Want to pay her a visit? Fantastique!


57, rue de Turbigo, 75003

Métro: Arts et Métiers

Lines 3 and 11


When you exit this métro station, you will come up beside a lovely little patisserie / boulangerie.


If you look diagonally across the street, crane your neck up and you will find her, after a moment or two of searching.


Admittedly, it is easier to do when the spring and summer foliage is not in full bloom, but it is certainly worth the effort to find this angel's secret hiding place.




image: Christina Consolé

Speaking of gems hiding in plain sight, this Patisserie, Ernest & Valentin is simply divine - no shock that it took home the prize of Best Boulangerie in 2015.


Come grab a "heavenly" nibble for your angel gazing!


42, rue Réaumur, 75003

Located just at the top of the métro stop: Arts et Métiers (Lines 3 and 11)




So, what do you think, P'Nicher? Have you seen this angel, or is she now added to your Parisian treasure map? Let us know in the comments below et à bientôt!


image: flickr.com/claudecolom
8 comments

Recent Posts

See All

8 Comments


librariana01
Apr 17, 2023

She’s gorgeous, and as always, your writing and sharing are absolutely charming. I can’t help but think, as I often do, that everything old is new again: She makes me think so much of the art deco movement!

Like
chrissy
Apr 21, 2023
Replying to

than you so much and oooooh, you've got me thinking of Art Deco now!! 😉

Like

Debra Borchert
Debra Borchert
Apr 16, 2023

Heavenly. Next time I'm in Paris I will seek her out for a blessing, so surely experiencing her is one. Debra

Like
chrissy
Apr 21, 2023
Replying to

I cannot wait to hear what you think!


Like

bobkolinski
Apr 14, 2023

Love this article plus the extra patisserie tip, merci !

Like
chrissy
Apr 14, 2023
Replying to

So glad you enjoyed it and def try the chausson aux pommes - quel yum!!

Like

janet
Apr 14, 2023

A story of our beloved angel from our own P'nangel! Merci !

Like
chrissy
Apr 14, 2023
Replying to

Aren't you the loveliest?! Merciiiii!! 😘

Like
bottom of page