Three years ago, Deyrolle, the great cabinet of curiosities that is one of the most beloved shops in all of France, was the victim of a fire that destroyed 90 percent of its inventory. Now reopened, it is the subject of an oddly beautiful book and makes an appearance in Woody AllenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“Midnight in Paris.Ã¢â‚¬
The day after DeyrolleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s catastrophic fire, photographer Laurent Bochet rushed over to the Rue du Bac and began snapping pictures of the ruins: entomology drawers containing beetles and crabs and swallowtail butterflies; trays of fossilized gastropods and bivalves; chunks of quartz and branches of coral; and, most moving of all, the stuffed forms of zebras and storks, goats and gazelles. At first, like so many devotedÃ¢â‚¬”and devastatedÃ¢â‚¬”Parisians, Bochet went to offer his condolences to the proprietor and staff of the beloved 170-year-old-plus institution. But then he became obsessed with the task of capturing the tragic and terrifying tableau, and the results, captured in AssoulineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 1000 C Deyrolle, are as strangely beautiful as they are moving. As Louis Albert de Broglie writes in his forward, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I consider each of his creations as a monument linking history, mystery, and science, much like the volcanic artifacts of Pompeii.Ã¢â‚¬
One of the bookÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sections features staff and friends of the shop, including the great decorator Jacques Grange and the bookÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s publisher Pierre Assouline, holding some of the pieces that were at least partly spared. Pierre Vaudier, DeyrolleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s window dresser who is pictured above, is quoted as saying that he means to Ã¢â‚¬Å“reconstruct, rebuild and make the dream live again! For all, just as it was when I first came here.Ã¢â‚¬ Happily, DeyrolleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s drawers are, indeed, again filled with specimens, and the lions lie down with the lambs at the top of the stairs, while a fox seemingly naps in a chair. Meanwhile the book remains a stunning testament to all that was lost. Says Pierre Assouline: Ã¢â‚¬Å“By a paradox that is part of its enigma, the flames that threatened to erase Deyrolle forever had the effect of preserving its memory.Ã¢â‚¬
Pictured above, Laurent BochetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s images include Pierre Vaudier with a peacock, the skull of a lion, and a collection of Lepidoptera from Asia.