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January 26, 2013

Rare and Amazing Color Photographs Captured Daily Life of Paris in the Early 20th Century

Over 100 years ago, a French banker named Albert Kahn undertook a massive photography project that became known as The Archives of the Planet. In 1909, he commissioned four photographers to take their cameras all around the world, and using the Autochrome Lumière process, to document in color what they saw. One of the cities they documented was Paris.

Starting in 1914, Kahn’s photographers (Leon Gimpel, Stephane Passet, Georges Chevalier and Auguste Leon) began to document daily life in Paris. They utilized pioneering technology that employed color filters made from microscopic grains of dyed potato starch. The images collected portray the everyday struggle of real life, juxtaposed with a joie de vivre characteristic of Parisians, in a city on the brink of devastation brought on by a war that would alter the world.

This collection showcases an amazing, colorful time period, with historical scenes that are as familiar as they are foreign, not to mention a nostalgic depiction of humanity.



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