Printemps: Central hall
I'm currently reading Zola's The Ladies' Paradise and shall write properly about the book soon, but wanted to mention it today and use these wonderful illustrations from Bridgeman Art Library. The book concerns the rise of the great Parisian department store, the eponymous "Ladies' Paradise" or "Au Bonheur des Dames" - based on the Bon Marche, - a temple to the art of shopping, to capitalism and to the mechanisms of commercial seduction.
Putting such pressure on the small, independent specialist shops that they could scarcely survive, the vast bulk and power of the giant store spread through the district, attracting customers of all social strata, and constantly providing new and better delights with which to tempt them:-
"The crowd had reached the silk department....At the far end of the hall, around one of the small cast-iron columns which supported the glass roof, material was streaming down like a bubbling sheet of water, falling from above and spreading out on to the floor. First, pale satins and soft silks were gushing out: royal satins and renaissance satins, with the pearly shades of spring water; light silks as transparent as crystal - Nile green, turquoise, blossom pink, Danube blue. Next came ....the marvellous satins and the duchess silks, in warm shades, rolling in great waves. And at the bottom, as if in a fountain basin...the damasks, the brocades, the silver and gold silks, were sleeping on a deep bed of velvets....their shimmering flecks forming a still lake in which reflections of the sky and of the countryside seemed to dance. Women pale with desire were leaning over as if to look at themselves. Faced with this wild cataract, they all remained standing there, filled with the secret fear of being caught up in the over-flow of all this luxury and with an irresistible desire to throw themselves into it and be lost".
Magasins du Louvre
There may not be anything subtle about it, but I'm enjoying it greatly!