The flower seller: Amritsar

Selling flowers to Sikh pilgrims at the Golden Temple Amritsar, India, January 15, 1914, by Stéphane Passet, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine.

This autochrome is one of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker who was committed to the ideal of universal peace and who believed that “knowledge of foreign cultures encourages respect and peaceful relations between nations.”* He was also acutely aware that the 20th century was going to bring rapid material change to the world.

Accordingly, from 1909 to 1931, Kahn sent thirteen photographers and filmmakers to 50 countries “to fix, once and for all, aspects, practices, and modes of human activity whose fatal disappearance is no longer ‘a matter of time.’”† The resulting collection is called Archives de la Planète and now resides in its own museum at Kahn’s old suburban estate at Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. Since June 2016, the archive has also been available for viewing online here.


*Collections Albert-Kahn website. Also, the above photo (A 4 214) is © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.
†words of Albert Kahn, 1912.

Tokyo, Japan

A garden corner of a residence (possibly of the Kitashirakawa family), Tokyo, Japan, 1926-1927, by Roger Dumas, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine.

This autochrome is one of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker and pacifist, between 1909 and 1931. Kahn sent thirteen photographers and filmmakers to fifty countries “to fix, once and for all, aspects, practices, and modes of human activity whose fatal disappearance is no longer ‘a matter of time.'”* The resulting collection is called Archives de la Planète and now resides in its own museum at Kahn’s old suburban estate at Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. Since June 2016, the archive has also been available for viewing online here.


*words of Albert Kahn, 1912. Also, the above photo (70 965 XS) is © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.

Primrose box

Sakurasō (primrose: Primula sieboldii or P. japonica), ca. 1810, a woodcut print by Kubo Shunman, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Another way to display primroses. This also makes me think of photographer Sibylle Pietrek’s boxed flowers here.

To see how many garden bloggers have arranged flowers today, please take a look at “In a vase on Monday,” hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

Also, the blog It’s About Time, is currently running a series of posts of paintings, “Arranging Flowers in 19C & Early 20C America.”

Tokyo, Japan

Horikiri Iris Garden, Tokyo, Japan, June 1926, by Roger Dumas, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine (all photos here).

Horikiri Shobuen is one of the oldest iris gardens in Japan. It was probably created by a local flower farmer, Kodaka Izaemo, in the late 17th century. By the early 19th century, it had become a popular destination for sightseers during the Hanashōbu or Iris ensata bloom-time in early June.

In 1900, there were five iris gardens in the swampy land of Tokyo’s Horikiri district — all producing bulbs for export to Europe and the U.S. However, demand was declining by the time these pictures were taken, and the area’s last two iris gardens converted to vegetable plots during World War II.

In 1960, the site of the Kodaka iris garden was replanted and opened to the public. Today, its 6,000 iris plants — from 200 cultivars — are the focus of an Iris Festival held every year from May 30 to June 18.

The autochromes above are four of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker and pacifist, between 1909 and 1931. Kahn sent thirteen photographers and filmmakers to fifty countries “to fix, once and for all, aspects, practices, and modes of human activity whose fatal disappearance is no longer ‘a matter of time.'”* The resulting collection is called Archives de la Planète and now resides in its own museum at Kahn’s old suburban estate at Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. Since June 2016, the archive has also been available for viewing online here.


*words of Albert Kahn, 1912. Also, the above photos (A 55 771 S, A 55 776 S, A 55 775, A 55 772 X) are © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.