Paris - Ile De France

Saint Jean de Montmartre Church - Art Nouveau

This page was updated on: Sunday, December 10, 2017 at: 6:47 pm

Saint Jean de Montmartre - Anatole de Baudot

Saint Jean de Montmartre is a superb illustration of metal architecture and Art Nouveau.

Anatole de Baudot was a student of Viollet-le-Duc, the architect in charge of the restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral, Saint-Denis Basilica and Sainte-Chapelle.

He also studied with Labrousse, who was a student of Baltard, the architect who designed Les Halles.

Baudot followed in the steps of his renowned mentors and developed a passion for metal architecture!

He also found inspiration in oriental architecture, which he discovered during the Universal Exhibition of 1900.

A superb illustration of metal architecture

Saint Jean de Montmartre was built between 1897 and 1904, and is the only Parisian church in reinforced cement mounted on a metal frame!

The most famous illustration of this experimental architectural style of the 1900s is the former railway station Gare d’Orléans, which today houses the Orsay Museum.

However, metal architecture was not to everyone's taste in the early 20th century!

Saint Jean de Montmartre was indeed threatened of demolition because of the “unorthodox construction methods”.

Fortunately the opponents to his project lost the case, and the work resumed.

Four years later, it became the parish church of the Quartier des Abbesses.

It is true that Baudot met a couple of major structural issues, such as the smallness of the plot and the fact that the crypt was located 10m below street level.

However, he solved these issues by building 26 reinforcement pillars in order to anchor the building 12m deep into the ground.

He also strengthened the building’s structure with the use of reinforced cement and bricks.

Finally, he added an interior metal gallery that runs all around the edifice in order to prevent any movement of the structure.

Saint Jean de Montmartre - A masterpiece of Art Nouveau

Saint Jean de Montmartre can be quite deceptive from a distance.

However, as you come closer you discover a wealth of elaborate architectural and decorative features produced by best artists of the time!

The church's distinctive red brick facade is indeed adorned with geometrical mosaics and the porch framed with two bronze angels.

Two white marble angels, sculpted by Guéniot, hold the fonts located by the entrance, inside the church.

You discover more low reliefs and medallions from this artist as you walk through the church.

The silversmith Goudji created the baptismal font using stone, bronze, silver and jasper.

Saint Jean de Montmartre's interior is a superb illustration of metal architecture at its best; a light, yet strong structure, adorned with geometrical and intertwined volutes and friezes.

The theme of the decoration is based on the writings of St-John – The 4th Gospel and the Apocalypse.

The nave and chancel reinforced cement walls were plastered in order to paint the impressive murals and canvasses.

The elegant pillars are adorned with patterns of vine leaves and branches that evoke the phrase from St-John’s Gospel:

“I am the vine you are the branches”.

The Chapelle de la Vierge was decorated after WWI with a mural depicting the marriage of a Soldier of the Great War.

Baudot designed the unusual altar.

The reinforced cement base is indeed adorned with blue and grey diamonds created by the ceramist Alexandre Bigot.

Four medallions, depicting the symbols of the Evangelists, adorn the upper part of the altar.

You'll find Matthew and the Angel, Luke and the Bull, Mark and the Lion and John and the Eagle.

This last theme is also found on the decoration of the pillars, among the vines leaves and branches.

Saint Jean de Montmartre boasts stunning original Art Nouveau stained-glass windows.

Their decoration is once more based on the theme of St. John’s Gospel and the Apocalypse.

Their warm colours shed a pleasant light in the church.

Forty-eight curvilinear windows, depicting the Virgin’s Litanies, are placed all around the church.

Jac Galland created all the stained glass windows, but the Crucifixion by Tournel.

The renowned organ maker Cavaillé-Coll built the great organ in 1852... but for another church located in Lyon!

The instrument was transferred to Saint Jean de Montmartre in 1910; it was enlarged in the 1920s and the 1930s.

It was renovated a first time in 1979 and a second time ten years later!

The crypt contains some interesting paintings, but is not open to the public.

As you leave you'll discover a bust of the architect Baudot outside the porch, to the right.

Saint Jean de Montmartre will delight the fans of Art Nouveau!

Directions: 18th district - 19 rue des Abbesses
Metro: Abbesses on Line 12
Coordinates: Lat 48.884365 - Long 2.338225

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