Monday, February 21, 2011


We were in the company of a French architect when we spotted this exceptional carved limestone trompe l'oeil entry façade in the small pittoresque city of Pézenas, the pearl of the Languedoc. What a surprise, even for an architect in this town which is renowned for the diversity of  its 17th century monumental entry doors. Naturally we lingered at this one, looking at it from all angles.

Located at 1-3 rue des d'André and bordering the 14th century Jewish ghetto of the historic Vieux Pézenas, the arch flanked by oblique doric columns and its door on a bias create an intriguing false perspective. Alternating bas-relief bucranes and rosaces ornament the Gallo-Roman style entablature.

In the 17th century private construction flourished in Pézenas, then an important commercial center.  Property parcels were long and narrow so owners manifested their stature through the creation of monumental doors. The porche here gives entry to the hôtel d'Agde de Fondousse, one of the most important residences built in those golden days. It has now been entirely and meticulously restored. While searching for information about the door entry I found photos made well before the restoration, below. The arch had been filled in and a column had disappeared.

trompe l'oeil: trompe l'oeil; visual illusion in art or architecture; literally "deceives the eye"
pittoresque: picturesque
vieux: old
bucrane: sculptural work representing an ox head
porche: entry porch

©2011 P.B. Lecron

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