Monday, November 12, 2012

Turgot Map, Place Vendôme

Providence, November 12, 2012

I spoke too fast when I wrote that you woudn't find another square carved out of the fabric in the Paris of the 1730's: yes, smack  at the bottom of the map is Place Vendôme, completed in 1720, just in time for inclusion in the Turgot map.  Here we are at the height of the barroque, so the space is much more figural than the simple square of Place des Vosges.  It's a rectagle with chanfered corners and formalized entrances at its narrow sides.  It's smaller, with tighter, more intense proportions.  The buildings that line its perimeter are excedingly thin, as if the architect were relishing in the stage-set quality of his architecture.  The rectangle is aligned with Rue Saint-Honoré and the surrounding fabric simply hits the back of its architecture at odd angles.  In the Turgot map the square appears as "Place de Vendome où de Louis Le Grand".  Yes, you'll have to imagine it not with Napoleon's Trajan column (for that you'll have to wait to Austerlitz in 1805) but with an equestrian statue of Louis XIV facing south (towards Rue Saint-Honoré.)  You'll also have to wait for Napoleon to blast Rue de la Paix through the old convent of the Capucins, so for about a century Place Vendôme was a rather private space, secluded from the traffic of the city.

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