Birmingham Egyptology

Egyptianizing art in Paris – by Kevin Birtles

The  Birmingham Egyptology Forum of 12thJuly discussed the topic of Egyptianizing architecture. Having done the walk around St Philips Cathedral a few times myself I was aware of the vast amount of architectural forms that are “stylized” in an ancient Egyptian way, and Birmingham is not alone!

This July (2013) I was in Paris and happened to be trying to avoid the 30 plus degree heat when I came across another site that had Egyptianizing art. No, not the Glass Pyramid in the Louvre, but in the shade of The Grand Palais, which is situated in the 8th arrondissement on Avenue Winston Churchill, I happened to look up behind the colonnade on the front façade and noticed beautiful friezes which depict art through the ages.  The mosaic frieze located behind the colonnade on the front façade, executed in a grand scale, was made by Louis Édouard Fournier (1857–1917), a French painter and illustrator. The work is 73 meters long and presents a timeline through the main periods of art history from Ancient Egyptian to the present day.


 And beneath these friezes was also a sculpture, depicting a female, in a non-Egyptian style clothing replete with Uraeus headdress and, rather unexpectedly, holding a statue on her knee of a seated Pharaoh which, on first glance, seems to be in a classical Egyptian style compared to the artistic license used in the rest of the piece.


The Grand Palais is famous for its beautiful exterior decoration. The front façade is adorned with a large number of statues, sculptured friezes and beautiful mosaics. All this was done by no less than forty different contemporary artists. Even though the front side of the Grand Palais has a typical Classicism style when it comes to architecture, many of the sculptures have a more baroque look to them.

No doubt with more walking and looking in any city in the world one would be able to find many more examples. I have even found various Egyptian stylized funerary architecture in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, which also houses the Mausoleum of Jean-François Champollion (23 December 1790 – 4 March 1832). The world is your oyster, go and seek.


All Pictures are copyright of author, although they may be used freeely to illustrate articles etc with appropriate reference to photographer.

One comment

  1. September 23, 2013 at 6:39 am

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