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Determined to continue my series on Marseille’s Art Nouveau, I wanted to share a second building by Charles Héraud with you: ‘Hôtel Margirier’. However, since I already told you everything I know about Héraud in my post on 26 Cours Lieutaud, there really isn’t much left to tell… I have many photo’s though, which I don’t want to keep from you. So, not much text this time, but heaps of pictures!

Charles Héraud, born 1859, built ‘Hôtel Margirier’ at 46 Rue Jean de Bernardy in 1902. Like Cours Lieutaud, Rue Jean de Bernardy is not exactly a street where one would expect to find Art Nouveau gems. If you walk fast enough, you could easily overlook ‘Hôtel Margirier’. But that would be a shame, so slow down!

Google streetview: Rue Jean de Bernardy, Marseille

Google streetview: Rue Jean de Bernardy

The Art Nouveau manor house consists of two parts. The facade of the part on the left is set back a little which creates a small courtyard, closed in by a wrought iron gate. The second and taller part is built along the building line.

'Hôtel Margirier', 46 Rue Jean de Bernardy, Marseille

‘Hôtel Margirier’, 46 Rue Jean de Bernardy, Marseille

At first, Hôtel Margirier appears to be rather plain, but if you allow it to grow on you a little longer, you might actually detect some typical Art Nouveau ornaments.

Zooming in a little further…

… I can detect Snowdrops, Sunflowers, bees and Platanus (a.k.a. Sycamore / Plane Tree) leafs and fruits. And I am sure there are more symbols as I haven’t figured all of them out yet. Can you help me recognise any symbols I have not mentioned?

In a way, these symbols allow us to ‘read’ an Art Nouveau building. The snowdrops, for instance, mean ‘hope’. The sunflowers mean ‘pride and strength’. A bee stands for ‘hard work and diligence, thrift’. And the Platanus tree is one of the oldest species of trees on this earth. It is considered a symbol of strength, protection, eternity, and divinity.

There are a lot more flowers and plants that have a specific meaning in Art Nouveau. The Museum de l’Ecole de Nancy published a nice booklet about these symbolic meanings ‘Flora in Art Nouveau‘ for children, which I think is interesting for adults as well. And as this blog is about getting to know Art Nouveau I intend to find more publications about symbols used in Art Nouveau. Once I have gathered enough information I’ll prepare a blog about the subject and share my knowledge with you here. Would you please share any publications you already found with me?

Art Nouveau and the psychology of interior space
Flora Book
Des chardons sous le balcon
Liste des Architectes célèbres de Provence
Reglement du PLU de Marseille