The Monegasque gaming temple’s two monumental statues have been watching the good times roll since the Belle Epoque. Restored once more to their former glory on a Place du Casino that’s an invitation to stroll.
They contribute to the beauty of Casino de Monte-Carlo’s mythical façade. But who exactly are these female figures enthroned above the front entrance canopy facing Anish Kapoor’s contemporary sculpture? The one bearing a trident with a dolphin at her feet, the other carrying an oar. Allegories, in fact, of the Mediterranean and the Seine. You need to go back in history to understand the origin of this imposing duo. Until the end of the nineteenth century, Monaco was not on the same time as Paris and other French regions. It had a local time system, which became a real headache when train passengers needed timetables as transportation evolved. The architect Jules Touzet decided to add two clocks to the Casino’s north-facing principal façade when completed in 1890 to solve the problem.
Each placed in a tourelle, one on the Seine side set to Paris time, the other showing Monaco time on the Mediterranean side.As of 1892 and by sovereign decree, Monaco finally fell in with the rest of France and set all its clocks to the Paris meridian. For the sake of consistency, the architect Schmit had a single clock placed in the centre, set to standard time. Remnants remain of the two-clock era. Cartouches, for one, directly above the housing of each now silent clock, indicating Monaco to the left and Paris to the right. And these two statues, restored this winter by Nice-based Ad Afresco, under the guidance of Luc Leroy, Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer’s Building, Design and Construction Director of Infrastructure and the man responsible for the transformation of the Place du Casino.
Meticulous restoration on-site
The two high relief sculptures were initially carved on-site by Italian sculptor Fabio Stecchi, who took up residence in Paris and then Nice until the end of his days. Made of stucco on a metal structure, then covered with a bronze-effect patina. After the façade renovation in 2000, these sculptures were the focus of these new works. The micro-cracks in the paint were filled with acrylic resin to protect them from moisture. Once the stucco had adjusted slightly, they were covered again with a patina and water-repellent varnish. Ensuring these imposing figures continue to stand guard over a transformed Place du Casino, paved with Comblanchien stone and enlivened by 20 palm trees with the help of landscape architect Michel Desvigne. All part of reinventing the area between the Hôtel de Paris, One Monte-Carlo, and the Jardin des Boulingrins, through which walkers can now stroll much as they did at the beginning of the last century.
By Eve Chatelet