Consider me ever-late to the party. You’ve probably seen these before because, thanks to the internet, there is no new thing- just a rehash of the old. I admit that I’m not often swayed by the “Frenchness” of things. Yes, your macarons are pretty and taste splendidly of delicate almonds! Yes, your soap is milled and smells splendidly of delicate almonds! You still use butter and you still smoke cigarettes. Hurrah, countrymen. Yet, the “…but it’s french!” argument doesn’t get too far with this old bear. However, I dare you to imagine a place of long-ago that, when photographed in autochrome, would look- nay! could look- any more magical and ethereal than fin de siècle (+14) Paris, France and its immediate surrounds.
Leading off with that photograph is almost unfair. You cannot argue against it. Sure, you can still pay a visit to the Grand Palais and see a spectacular, memorable exhibition but these photographs are time travel; they fudge the line between past and present. What I’ve learned from studying and working with historical buildings and documents is that “ago” was not far and away. “Ago” is just a slight variation of “now”. Understanding and embracing that continuity is as close to a time machine as I can get.
(For more photographs, visit www.paris1914.com)