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Wheel Chasers: Historical Paris Street Furniture of the 19th Century.

historical chasse-roues, cast iron ball Paris street furniture and other designs.

Wandering through neighborhoods in Paris, you’ll notice that doorways are often flanked by low structures made either of stone or metal. These guard stones are called chasse-roues (French lit. “wheel chaser“) or bouteroue (“to push the wheel out of the way“). These projecting metal, concrete, or stone exterior architectural elements are usually located at the corner and/or foot of gates, portes-cochères, garage entries, and walls. They function to prevent damage from vehicle tires and wheels. During the period of horse-drawn vehicles, the wheels, including the hub, would protrude beyond the vehicle’s body, and were thus prone to collide with and damage a corner of a building or gate. Chasse-roues were developed as a warning signs: ‘keep back‘, ‘keep your distance’, ‘don’t brush up against me’, and as traffic bollards––or, in the common parlance, ‘traffic cones’ ⚠️😄.  They are a historical item of street furniture and some are still in use today. 1 2 3

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photos: Sylvaine Lang, Moments Parfait blog, Chasse-roues. February 26, 2019

Stone was the favored material for chasse-roues during medieval and Renaissance times but many different cast iron designs were installed during the Haussmannian transformation of Paris. 4 Of the surviving chasse-roues in Paris, many are from that age of economical iron and steel. Cast iron was often preferred because it’s affordablity and versatility. Initially, a pattern or mould of the design––the most expensive part of the process––would be made. Then the molten cast iron would be poured or ‘cast’ into the mould and could take many decorative forms with each subsequent casting being relatively inexpensive to produce. Many ornamental cast-iron pieces from the late 19th and early 20th centuries survive today. These decorative artifacts represent a perfect union of form and function projecting a sense of strength, durabilty and good design.

When automobiles replaced fiacres 5, chasse-roues no longer served their purpose being replaced by objects meant for automobile traffic, such as curbs and guard rails. They were, in fact, undesirable but because they were unusually difficult to remove, most of them were just left in place. Those that remain stand as silent sentinals to earlier traffic on those historic roads. 6

Today these architectural artifacts are treasured for historic reasons and are often protected as part of a city’s cultural heritage.

On one of our recent excursions into Paris, we found a lovely patinaed pair of iron ball, “boule”, chasse-roues which we had electrified and museum-mounted as an impressive pair of table lamps.7 ^jh

Pair Of Iron Ball, "boule", chasse-roues mounted as table lamps, French, circa 1870.
Pair Of Iron Ball, “boule”, chasse-roues mounted as table lamps, French, circa 1870.

Further readings and sources:

Show 7 Footnotes

  1. Moments Parfait, https://www.momentsparfaits.com/blog
  2. The Parisian Fields, Noman Ball, June 2011, https://parisianfields.com/2011/06/26/the-art-of-the-chasse-roue/
  3. Un jour de plus à Parishttps://www.unjourdeplusaparis.com/en/paris-balades/balade-belleville-menilmontant
  4. Haussmann’s renovation of Paris, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haussmann%27s_renovation_of_Paris
  5. A fiacre is a form of hackney coach, a horse-drawn four-wheeled carriage for hire. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiacre_(carriage)
  6. Revolvy : https://www.revolvy.com/page/Guard-stone
  7. Pair of cast iron ball chasse-roues mounted as table lamps, French, Circa 1870 at Garden Court Antiques, https://www.gardencourtantiques.com/shop/pair-of-iron-ball-finials-now-mounted-as-table-lamps-french-circa-1870/
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Lewis deSoto Site Projects 1980-1986

Temple 1986 30 x 30 inches Lewis deSoto
Temple 1986 30 x 30 inches Lewis deSoto

 

Ellipse Tide 1982 - Lewis deSoto
Ellipse Tide 1982 – Lewis deSoto

 

Tideline 1981 - Lewis deSoto
Tideline 1981 – Lewis deSoto
Wave System 1983 - Lewis deSoto
Wave System 1983 – Lewis deSoto

Combining contemporary art alongside antiques reflect the way Interior Designers innovate with their design projects today.

Next time you visit the showroom at 151 Vermont you’ll notice ‘temporary’ exhibitions of contemporary works of art.

Let us know what you think.

Currently in the Showroom we are featuring photographic works from Napa Artist, Lewis deSoto in conjunction with Laurie Ghielmetti Interiors. These ephemeral images were staged in response to the ‘destructive process’ of Land Art, a defining element of Postwar American art.

Lewis deSoto
ARTIST STATEMENT
Site Projects 1980-1986
The Site Projects were the step between my purely photographic work of the late 70’s and early 80’s and the sculpture that was to take precedent by 1989. The work was a philosophical response to “earthworks” sculptors like Smithson, Heizer and DeMaria. What issue was taken, was the destructive process (I mean this in digital terms, where the original is destroyed as a piece of data is constructed); bulldozers marked and moved the earth to serve their metaphorical purpose.

The Site Projects used the site as a stage that left a dwindling trace of my work there. I added a temporal element that was echoed in many works that took place during long camera exposures at night. These works dealt with notions of power and scale; like Chinese landscapes, these works compared the scale of the human against the overarching embrace
of the world, the stars and the galaxies.

Most projects began with drawings, some formalized instructions that could be reengaged at a later date or by myself or other artists. This was, in part, a response to the ephemeral nature of color print photography at the time. Now these works can be translated digitally and placed on paper with pigments for permanent display. The desired print size of the work has also grown over the years, starting at 18” x 18” and ending at 30” x 30” sometime in the early 1990’s. I have engaged larger sizes now that these are translated to digital media.

Read more on the artist’s website: http://lewisdesoto.net/Wallworks/Site_Projects.html