The house at number 9 rue Aubriot presents a blank face to the street, but the elaborately carved doors tell the passer by that there is (or was) something grand hidden beyond them.
In the seventeenth century, when these doors were new, Rue Aubriot was a fashionable address. An astronomer, a poet, a well-known courtesan and one of Louis XIV’s councillors were among the street’s residents.
By 1828, when Jules-Adolph Chauvet drew this doorway, the wealthy residents of rue Aubriot were long gone. The fortunes of the Marais district took a downturn in 1682, when Louis XIV moved his court out of town to Versailles, and tumbled further after the Revolution.
By the early nineteenth century, most of the grand hôtels particuliers had been divided into multiple dwellings and their courtyards had been filled with workshops and factories. Victor Baraguey’s hat factory was established at number 9, though the signs in this picture show that there was still space available to rent.
The hat factory was still in business when Eugène Atget took this photo, around 1906. The doors and surrounding stone work are looking a bit the worse for wear. In 1925 the doors were added to the national register of historic monuments, though it wasn’t until forty years later that large scale renovation of buildings in this neighbourhood started.
The stonework around the doors shows the signs of many changes through the centuries but the carved door panels, now set in new surrounds, have weathered remarkably well.
The houses on rue Aubriot don’t give much away to passers by; their faces are, and always were, turned towards the inner courtyards. The residents may have all been looking discretely the other way too when, in 1975, photographer Helmut Newton came here on a fashion shoot for Vogue.
The photos shot in Rue Aubriot caused quite a stir. They featured two women, one wearing an Yves Saint Laurent suit, the other nude. The houses on Rue Aubriot must have many stories to tell from earlier centuries. In the twentieth century it was a woman with no clothes on who made the street famous.
Another post linked to Thursday Doors.