Frantz Jourdain (1847 – 1935) Belgian architect and author

Albert Besnard (French, 1849–1934), Portrait of Frantz Jourdain, 1905. Black chalk on thin tan paper,
Albert Besnard (French, 1849–1934), Portrait of Frantz Jourdain, 1905. Black chalk on thin tan paper,

Frantz Jourdain (1847 – 1935) was an architect and author from Belgium. He is best known for La Samaritaine, an Art Nouveau department store designed in three stages between 1904 and 1928 in Paris’s 1st arrondissement. He was regarded as an Art Nouveau expert.


In 1847, Frantz Jourdain was born. He attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in the 1860s. In 1870, he became a French citizen.


Jourdain was an Art Nouveau theorist. He began writing about the arts in 1875. By the end of his life, he had written nearly 200 articles in sixty magazines and journals, initially as news items but later as critical articles. He shared his opinions on art. In 1886 and 1931, some of these were collected into collections. His writings were eclectic. He wrote a picaresque romance, two collections of short stories, a novel, a play, and two groups of artist portraits in addition to writing on artistic issues.

Jourdain was at the forefront of the effort to renew and synthesise the arts between 1880 and 1910. He was instrumental in developing new ideas. He discovered obscure late-nineteenth-century painters and was a significant fan of Ferdinand Dutert and Victor Contamin’s Exposition Universelle (1889) Galerie des Machines. He became a member of the Société des gens de lettres in 1887. By the 1890s, he had established himself as a well-known and widely quoted art critic, a critic of academic training and the English Arts and Crafts movement. He despised institutions that stifled new talent, such as the Beaux-Arts. He felt the Prix de Rome, which sent artists to the Villa Medici to study well-known antiquities, was a waste of time.


Ernest Cognacq opened La Samaritaine, a department store, in 1870 after leasing a small portion of a building for commercial purposes. He then purchased the house and, in stages, the building across the rue de la Monnaie. In 1885, he commissioned Jourdain to rebuild the original structure while also beginning to upgrade the exterior. Cognacq agreed to expand the store in 1904. Jourdain was tasked with creating the most amount of space possible in the shortest amount of time and for the least amount of money. He devised a radical steel structure to do so. His uncle, the decorator Francis Jourdain, the painter Eugène Grasset, the metalworker Edouard Schenck, and the ceramist Alexandre Bigot were responsible for the striking exterior decoration. While it attracted criticism from a new generation of architects who resisted Art Nouveau, his glass and an exposed steel frame in this design were radical and practical.

Palais de la Découverte Project, Paris, France (Plan of upper level and exhibits)
Palais de la Découverte Project, Paris, France (Plan of upper level and exhibits) by Paul Nelson, Frantz Jourdain, Oscar Nitzchke

His work was included in the architecture section of the 1912 Summer Olympics art competitions.

The credit department of La Samaritaine department stores built La Semeuse de Paris between 1910 and 1912 to lend to the poorest customers. Apartments were also housed in the art nouveau structure. On December 11, 2000, it was designated as a historical monument. Cognacq was granted permission to construct a second structure in 1925. Jourdain and Henri Sauvage started working on the project in January 1926. They finished it in September 1928, after several changes to the original design. The steel frame was given a cream-coloured stone exterior at the request of the prefecture. Between 1930 and 1933, Jourdain designed Store 3 on the lot bounded by Rivoli, Pont-Neuf, and Boucher. The interior of Store 2 is the best preserved, with a glass roof, large staircases, and bright blue, green, and orange colours.


Wikipedia contributors. (2021, February 24). Frantz Jourdain. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:21, April 3, 2021, from

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