Charles Garnier

Paris Opera House

Garnier published in 1876 to 1881, Le Nouvel Opera de Paris, a monumental description and defense of his architectural designs for the new Paris Opera House. Garnier's Paris Opera House is widely regarded as the climax of 19th-century French classicism and one of the most famous buildings of the century. Garnier planned this spectacular setting so that visitors would begin their theatrical experience the moment they entered the building to confront a lavish circular grand staircase, numerous richly decorated galleries, and mosaic filled foyers, all of which are depicted in this portfolio. Of great beauty are the 20 chromo lithographs which illustrate the delicate marbles, frescoes, mosaics, colored tiles, gold sculptures, ornate paintings, curtains and the ornamentation of the grand staircase. Construction for the new Paris Opera House began in 1861, the façade was completed in 1867, the scaffolding was removed in 1869, the decoration restarted in 1873 and the inauguration was held on 5 January, 1875. The Opera cost 33 million French francs. The site had been chosen to fill, impressively, the open space created by Haussmann's planning. The architect, Charles Garnier (1825-1898) was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1842 and was awarded the Grand Prix de Rome in 1848 to study in Italy. He won the 1860 competition for the new Paris Opera House. The Opera became a symbol of Second Empire taste, and its eclectic neo-Baroque style became characteristic of late 19th-century Beaux-Arts design. The new opera house itself was the thirteenth since the 17th Century when Lully obtained the right from Louis XIV to introduce lyric theatre to France.