This nicely decorated building is from 1858 and served as from 1861 as workshop for François Gillet, who obviously was the first to, in an industrial way, manufacture enamel paintings on lava. The workshop remained here until WWI. We are on rue Fénelon, close to the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church.
The facade is covered by illustrations, all in enamel on Volvic lava. Some of them tell you the history of ceramic painting as from ancient times until the end of the 19th century. The last “detail” shows François Gillet together with the painter and lithographer Pierre-Jules Jolivet (1794-1871), who was an artist much involved in this type of decoration. When reaching a more industrial level, thanks to François Gillet, this became a popular and different way to create colourful outdoor weather-resisting decorations, replacing mosaics, tiles…
There are some specific illustrations of Luca della Robbia (Florence, 1399-1482), known for his glazed terracotta works, Bernard Palissy (1510-90), known for having found out how to imitate Chinese porcelain and Ferdinand Morteleque (1774-1844), who managed the first enamel painting on lava (“lave de Volvic”) in 1824. (He is the one sitting in front of Gillet and Jolivet on the above "detail".)
It’s interesting to see how different personalities from this period “met”. François Gillet took over the company from “Veuve Hachette”, in which Jacques Ignaz Hittorff (1792-1867) had been employed. Hittorff is known as the architect of a large number of buildings and places in Paris. He redesigned Place de la Concorde (see previous posts). Many of the buildings he created have disappeared, but we can still admire e.g. the “Cirque d’Hiver” (see previous post), “Gare du Nord” (see previous post) … and the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church (see previous post)… (I talked about all this in a post about Hittorff's tomb at the Montmartre cemetery (see previous post)).
Hittorff was very much in favour of decorated, colourful, buildings. He had discovered that ancient buildings and churches often had their facades painted. When he was in charge of finishing the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church he imagined thus the front to be decorated and he gave the job to Pierre-Jules Jolivet, for the canvasses, and to François Gillet for the execution. So, a number of illustrations in enamel were placed there in 1861. However, there were a lot of protests against these colourful illustrations – also because of some nakedness, so they were quickly taken down. They were brought back as late as 2011 and can now be seen again.
This has nothing to do with the above, except the colourful facade of a building which unfortunately is too present in the last days’ news: Bataclan,. a construction from 1864, originally a café-billiard, then music-hall (Buffalo-Bill…), cinema… and now a multi-purpose concert hall (Prince, Stromae, Robbie Williams, Oasis…). The facade in a pagoda style was quite recently repainted - in 1984. I wrote about it on my blog here.