Vintage landscape: Parc Monceau

Colonnade dans le parc Monceau, la Naumachie, Paris (VIIIe arr.), France, 12 septembre 1923, (Autochrome, 9 x 12 cm), Auguste Léon, Département des Hauts-de-Seine, musée Albert-Kahn, Archives de la Planète, A 39 095 S
La Naumachie Colonnade in Parc Monceau, Paris, September 12, 1923, by Auguste Léon, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Départment of Hauts-de-Seine (both photos).

In Ancient Rome, a naumachia was a large basin dug for staging naval battles* as public entertainment. In Parc Monceau, La Naumachie is a tranquil oval pool framed on one end by a Corinthian colonnade.

Colonnade dans le parc Monceau, la Naumachie, Paris (VIIIe arr.), France, 12 septembre 1923, (Autochrome, 9 x 12 cm), Auguste Léon, Département des Hauts-de-Seine, musée Albert-Kahn, Archives de la Planète, A 39 089 S

The columns were once part of a never-completed late 16th century mausoleum attached to the Basilica of Saint Denis. In the late 1770s, they were acquired by the Duke of Chartres for an elaborate “Anglo-Chinese” public garden he was creating in northwest Paris. He filled it with architectural follies (see here) — one of them being a “Roman” colonnade.

The Duke was guillotined in 1793. His land was first confiscated and then returned to his heirs, who sold about half of it to developers. In the 1850s, the city bought the last 20 acres of the old garden, and Parc Monceau opened in 1861 as a largely informal “English-style” park. Today, there are still a few follies, although only the colonnade/naumachia and a small Egyptian pyramid remain from the 18th century.

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.


*The word also refers to the spectacle itself.

words of Albert Kahn, 1912. Also, the above photos (A 39 095 S and A 39 089) are © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.

Vintage landscape: riverside

coblence-germany-garden-cropped-on-the-rhine-ca-1920s-bibliotheque-toulouseGardens alongside the Rhine River, Coblence (Rhineland-Palatinate)” via Bibliothèque de Toulouse Commons on flickr (cropped slightly by me).

The Bibliotheque‘s flickr page gives Eugène Trutat as the photographer, but M. Trutat died in 1910, and the women’s dresses seem to be from the 1920s, maybe even the 1930s.

Coblence — now Koblenz — is a German town located where the Rhine and Moselle Rivers come together. The photo may have been taken here, looking over to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.

Life in gardens: peace flower

Anti-war demonstrators, National Archives on flickr“Female demonstrator offering a flower to a military police officer,” West Potomac Park or Pentagon grounds, Arlington, Virginia, October 21, 1967, by S.Sgt. Albert R. Simpson, via U.S. National Archives Commons on flickr.

Flower Power originated in Berkeley, California, as a symbolic action of protest against the Vietnam War. In his November 1965 essay titled “How to Make a March/Spectacle,” [Allen] Ginsberg advocated that protesters should be provided with “masses of flowers” to hand out to policemen, press, politicians and spectators. . . .

In October 1967, [Abbie] Hoffman and Jerry Rubin helped organize the March on the Pentagon using Flower Power concepts to create a theatrical spectacle. The idea included a call for marchers to attempt to levitate the Pentagon. When the marchers faced off against more than 2,500 Army National Guard troops forming a human barricade in front of the Pentagon, demonstrators held flowers and some placed flowers in the soldier’s rifle barrels.

Photographs of flower-wielding protesters at the Pentagon March became seminal images of the 1960s anti-war protests.

Wikipedia, “Flower Power