Paris - Ile De France Section
Atlantes Engainés, sculpted facade - 45 Rue Saint-Roch
Head Office of the French cooks’ benefit society
Atlantes Engainés is the name of the two sculptures that adorn the entrance porch of 45 Rue Saint-Roch.
The architect Bruno Pélissier designed the building in 1917, in full war, for the Society of mutual help and retirement of the cooks of Paris.
This institution, since renamed Association mutualiste Les Cuisiniers de France, was founded in 1840.
The building, located near Saint-Roch Church, is still the association's headquarters.
Atlantes Engainés - symbolism
The decoration of the facade is not only lavish, but also full of symbolism.
It was indeed designed in order to reflect the values of respectability of the time.
In Greek mythology, the Altanteans were Titans, primordial giant deities.
They were indeed the children of Gaia the Earth Goddess and Uranus the Father Sky, and existed long before the Gods of the Olympus.
Those who rallied Atlas in his revolt against Zeus became known as Atlanteans (Atlantes in French).
As we all know, Zeus defeated Atlas and sentenced him to bear for eternity the celestial vault on his shoulders.
In classical architecture, Atlanteans are therefore represented as standing or kneeling men supporting different structures.
The Atlantes Engainés don't break the rule.
They indeed kneel and support the central balcony above the porch.
One has the features of a young man in order to symbolize Youth, the Age of Learning.
The second has a beard, and is represented in his middle age, the Age of Retirement.
Both are obviously shirtless, and the lower part of their body is embedded in a sheath (gaine), hence their name Atlantes Engainés.
Plant decoration - symbolism
Opulent garlands of oak, symbol of opulence and security, adorn their sheaths.
They then wrap around the central medallion that bears the name of the association.
This ostentatious plant decor is found throughout the facade, especially around the balconies of the upper floors.
It's undoubtedly lavish and ostentatious, but is stunning!
However, if we know the name of the architect, we don't know the name of the sculptor or sculptors.
It would seem, though, that the two Atlanteans are the work of a single sculptor, because of the statues' obvious similarities.
Directions: 1st district
Metro: Pyramides on Lines 7 and 14
Coordinates: Lat 48.866549 – Long 2.332928