Victor Baltard (1805-1874). Iron and Paintbrush

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A construction that became a model

BH Cie / ProvostVue intérieure du pavillon central des Halles© Musée Carnavalet / Roger-Viollet
he architectural success of the covered markets meant that they were much copied, both in France and abroad. Using standardised industrial materials, metal glass and brick, and a modular composition for reducing costs and making the use of space as profitable as possible, their system of construction was easy to imitate.
To promote knowledge of the building in professional circles, in 1863, Baltard published the Monograph on the central covered markets of Paris containing 35 carefully drawn illustrations and giving all of the details of the construction, the integration of the metal elements with the urban environment as well as the layout of the shops.

Twenty years after the inauguration of the eastern buildings, the covered markets more than ever acquired the status of a model when, at the universal exhibition of 1878, the company Joly presented a magnificent scale model, an almost exact copy of one of the buildings in the markets.

In the Paris churches

Charles MarvilleSaint Augustin© Musée d'Orsay / Patrice Schmidt
With his dual training as a painter and an architect, Baltard was particularly well-qualified to exercise his primary functions, those of inspector of Fine Arts for the City of Paris.
To this end, for more than 30 years, he supervised the decor of the parish churches of the capital. Ever conscious of the necessary alliance between architecture and decoration, he employed the greatest painters of his time and contributed to designing furniture, ornaments and stained glass windows.

The most important and harmonious of his achievements in this field is the decor of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés church, carried out with his close friend, the painter Hippolyte Flandrin. From 1848, when he was appointed architect of the churches of Paris, he also had to repair, maintain, restore or enlarge these religious structures.
These experiences would culminate in the construction of the Saint-Augustin church, where Baltard would associate the use of metal with a carefully designed and harmonious decor.

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