More about Jules Lavirotte buildings - but who was he?

Some ten years ago, I wrote about some Art Nouveau buildings by the architect Jules Lavirotte (1864-1929), the most famous ones perhaps to be found on Avenue and Square Rapp (see here), but I also wrote about the Céramic Hotel (see here) and on a building on Avenue Messine (see here). There are a few more to be seen in Paris, so I thought it was time to make a more complete “report”.

Lavirotte's first contract in 1898 – he was 34, was obviously for 151, Rue de Grenelle. The style is not yet really so striking. I feel that it’s more particularly the front door which gives you an Art Nouveau feeling.

In 1899 he was the architect of Hôtel Montessuy, 12 Rue Sédillot. This was built as a private mansion for the Countess Montessuy and we can see that here Lavirotte has been much more creative.  The building is today to a large extent transformed in its interior – it has become an Italian school.

1900-1901 he built at 29 Avenue Rapp and…

… at Square Rapp the buildings for which he is the most famous and which definitely are Art Nouveau. The spectacular part is of course to a large extent due to the ceramics and Lavirotte’s collaboration with Alexandre Bigot (1862-1927), a ceramicist who also worked a lot with other Art Nouveau architects, like Hector Guimard (see posts here). Lavirotte made Square Rapp, which was finished first, into his private address.

A “softer” Art Nouveau version is to be found at 134 Rue de Grenelle, finished in 1903. Some prominent people have lived in this building, including Edgar Faure.

The Art Nouveau is again in full bloom, to a large part thanks to the ceramics by Alexandre Bigot, at this hotel building from 1904, which actually has the name Céramic Hôtel.  

A surprisingly modest building - a “moderate rent” one -, from 1906, is to be found at 169 Boulevard Lefebvre. Exceptionally, you cannot read Lavirotte’s name on the facade.

This building from 1907, 23 Avenue Messine, is again very fashionable, but again less extravagant, although extremely decorated thanks to the sculptor Léon Binet, with whom Lavirotte worked regularly. The original building, which we can see on an old photo, received some additional floors during the 1930’s.

Immediately neighbouring this building, also from 1907, you can find this one, 6 Rue Messine.  

Lavirotte lived another 20 years…  Who was he? What did he look like? Almost impossible to find anything about his later activities, his personal life… but I found that there is now, at last and since last year, a book about him – which I will buy. It seems that he got married in 1897 to Jeanne, a bit older than he… , that he had a car accident around 1920 which stopped his career.. … Once I have the book, maybe I can tell you a bit more. 


Anonymous said...

Anything that has to do with vitreous or enameled ceramics is my weakness. I have grown up surrounded by interiors and facades of this kind since childhood.

Of course, the grandeur of these similar structures look like something out of a dream! And the quality of your photography increases that sense of wonder...

Fantastic post, Peter. Thank you so much.

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Brilliant pictures. And, very informative!

Jeanie said...

Peter, these buildings are just stunning. So grand and elegant. It's hard to imagine that one man could come up with such beautiful designs. And the ceramics. Sigh. Yet another thing to put on the someday-Paris list!

Anonymous said...


Thank you for all of this information, including the map! This will certainly help me on my next trip to find the places I have not yet seen.[

John in California

claude said...

J'aime beaucoup ce style d'architecture. Je suis allée au 29 avenue Rapp et derrière dans le petit square. Je fus enchantée de cette visite.

martinealison said...

Bonjour cher Peter,

Quelle splendeur architecturale ! C'est vraiment fascinant !
Merci pour le partage de tes photos Peter.

Gros bisous

Thérèse said...

Joli travail d'investigation ici et dans le dernier billet.