Passage du Caire, Place du Caire and Rue d’Alexandrie were developed in the last decade of the eighteenth century, on land confiscated from a monastery at the Revolution. The names of the streets commemorate Napoleon’s military campaign in Egypt, which ended with his triumphant entry into Cairo in 1798.
The facade of 2 Place du Caire is a curious mixture of neo-gothic style with Ancient Egyptian details, including giant carved heads of the goddess Hathor (traditionally represented with the ears of a cow), lotus flower columns and mock hieroglyphics.
It seems to be generally agreed that the building dates from 1797-8 but I’ve found various different theories about the addition of the Egyptian details. Some suggest that the carving was added in 1798, as the facade was completed. Others that they were added later as the fashion for all things Egyptian took hold in the city. One of the carved heads has a signature dated 1828 under it, which seems to confirm this theory.
One detail of much more recent date is the tiny mosaic landscape of camels and pyramids, tucked in an alcove under the street name of Rue du Caire. It’s the work of the anonymous street artist known as Space Invader, who had a busy summer in Paris last year. His early mosaics all looked like characters from the classic computer game but some of the more recent pieces have been rather more subtle, this one included.
February 7, 2016 at 5:36 pm
I am intrigued by how the anonymous street artist gets his mosaics up so high without anyone seeing him/her. S/he must use a ladder. Has anyone ever seen him/her in action? Does anyone ever object to a mosaic on their facade?
February 7, 2016 at 9:03 pm
Like any street artist who becomes famous, there must be quite a few people who know who ‘anonymous’ is. According to his website, August is a good month for installing mosaics in Paris, because the streets are quiet and the nights are warm.