Florence, Italy


Pergola covered in wisteria and ivy in a garden of Villa Palmieri, Florence, ca. 1915, from the Arthur Peck Collection, via Oregon State University (OSU) Special Collections & Archives Commons on flickr.

The 14th century Villa Palmieri is credited with being the story-telling setting for Boccaccio’s Decameron.

To see this garden, its handsome ordering, the plants, and the fountain with rivulets issuing from it, was so pleasing to each lady and the three young men that all began to affirm that, if Paradise could be made on earth, they couldn’t conceive a form other than that of this garden that might be given it.

However, the garden was completely restructured in 1697 and then partially redesigned several times thereafter, according to current fashions, through to the 1920s.

Since 1986, the villa has been owned by the Italian government and houses part of the European University Institute.

Arthur Peck was a Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Oregon Agricultural College from 1908 to 1948. During his long career, he created a teaching library of 24 boxes of glass lantern slides — now in OSU’s archives.

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.

Nara, Japan


Kasuga-jinja (or Kasuga-taisha) Sanctuary and wisteria, Nara, Japan, Spring 1926, by Roger Dumas, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine (all three photos here).

The Shinto shrine (first built in 768 A.D.) is famous for its thousands of bronze and stone lanterns. It is located on the edge of Nara Park, home to freely roaming deer said to be messengers of the gods.

Temple of lanterns, Japan, A68700X, Musee Albert-Kahn, Archives de la Planete

The autochromes above are three 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 70 757 X, A 70 758 X, A 68 700 X) are © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.