Place du Carrousel

Arrangement of tulips in the Tuileries Garden, Paris, May 8, 1925, by Auguste Léon, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Départment of Hauts-de-Seine.

These autochromes were taken at the Place du Carrousel, looking south to the Seine River. Today, there is a road and a roundabout (with a skylight for the underground shopping mall below) on this spot, which is just west of where I.M.Pei’s Pyramide du Louvre now stands.

It is also where Emmanuel Macron and his supporters celebrated his victory in the French presidential election runoff last night.

Looking southwest.

Today is La Fête de la Victoire in France. The public holiday commemorates the date of Germany’s unconditional surrender to the Allies in 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

The images 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 45 252, A 45 253, A 45 255 S, A 45 257) are © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.

The flower sellers, Paris

Flower sellers at Place Louis-Lépine on the l’île de la Cité, at Quai de la Corse, Paris, France, May 2, 1918, by Auguste Léon, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Départment of Hauts-de-Seine (both photos).

There has been a flower market on or near this spot since 1808. Since June 2014, it has been called Queen Elizabeth II Flower Market, to commemorate the visit of the British queen just prior to the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Behind the sellers, on the other side of the river, is the Palmier Fountain and Châtelet Theater.

France, Paris, Marché aux fleurs
Looking the other directions, with the Hotel de Ville in the background across the river.

These autochromes are two 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 13 994, A 14688) are © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.

Gerbéviller, France

“La Tombe des Coloniaux, a heart of grass, near Gerbéviller,” April 28, 1915, by Georges Chevalier, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Départment of Hauts-de-Seine.

This seems to be the grave of a soldier (or perhaps soldiers) from one of the French Colonial Infantry Regiments. He probably fell in the Battle of Lorraine about seven or eight months before the photo was taken. Such men, called “Marines,” were recruited from both France and the white settler and indigenous populations of the French colonial empire.

The town of Gerbéviller itself had been caught in the same battle’s crossfire. German troops had systematically burned over 400 houses and killed over 60 inhabitants. It became “Gerbéviller-la-Martyre” in the press and a kind of pilgrimage site.

Today, there are both French and German WWI cemeteries in Gerbéviller.

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 (A 5 344) is © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.

The flower seller, Paris


A flower seller, Place Voltaire, now Place Léon-Blum, Paris, France, May 1918, by Auguste Léon, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Départment of Hauts-de-Seine.

The autochrome above is one of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker, 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 (A 14 052) is © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.

A lady’s paradise


“The property of Madame Douine, Cap Martin, France,” January 1923, by Roger Dumas, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Départment of Hauts-de-Seine (both photos).

If you watched The Paradise (2013) on either BBC America or Masterpiece and wondered what happened to Denise after the series ended . . . well, perhaps it was this.

The series was based on Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies’ Paradise) by Émile Zola. It is novel about a saleswoman in one of the grand Paris department stores — Denise — who eventually marries the store’s owner. Her story mirrored the real life of Cyprienne Dubernet, a saleswoman at Grand Magazins du Louvre who married the owner, Olympe Hériot, in 1887.*

Cyprienne in her garden.

In 1909, Cyprienne — now widowed and re-married to Roger Douine — decided to build a villa in Cap Martin on the French Riviera. Her architect designed a Neo-Byzantine house inspired by her travels to Naples, Smyrna, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. She named it “Villa Cypris” in tribute to the Greek goddess of love and her own name. Italian painter Raffael Mainella designed the interiors and the garden, which included a stone bridge along the seafront, a cloister, a “Venetian Sanctuary,” a Mauritanian pergola, and sunken Dutch-style parterres with a canal/swimming pool.

You can see more pictures of the estate here, on its website (it seems to be for sale). There’s a video here

The autochromes above are two of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker, 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 (search “Madame Douine” to see more of Villa Cypris).


*It seems doubtful that Cyprienne (born just plain Anne Marie) was the direct inspiration for Denise, as the novel was published in 1883. She and Olympe had at least one (maybe two) of their four children before their marriage. Their oldest son, Auguste, was an inspiration for the main character of Colette’s novel Cheri. Cyprienne died in 1945.

words of Albert Kahn, 1912. Also, the above photos (A 71 795 and A 38 390 X) are © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.