In Angels of Paris, author Rosemary Flannery reveals a cityscape filled with angels: angels peeking out of dark corners, peering down from pillars and flagpoles, hanging effortlessly from the long wall of a government building. I counted 170 of them but there may have been more, hidden in the folds of a young woman’s skirt, bowing before the duchess, flashing shy smiles from door knockers, park benches and flower pots.
Flannery, in her book Angels of Paris: An Architectural Tour Through the History of Paris, has explored the romantic streets of gay Paree with a unique goal: to find and catalog angels in concrete and marble and bronze, her camera revealing their hiding places.
So enjoy the book, if you will, for the architectural photos. Indeed, one can’t help but grin at the creative ways in which French artists have imagined the angels, conscripting them to tell a story, to celebrate a victory, to mourn a loss. But equally notable is Flannery’s command of language, as she wields her dual crafts of writing and photography to unlock the secrets of her adopted city.
See what I mean. Flannery writes:
In French civic architecture, angels take on different names: renommées if celebrating the renown of a person or a group; angelots for baby angels, a version of the Italian putti or little boy cherubs; and génies or amours if found on buildings other than churches.