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May 18, 2022

Vintage Photographs of Paris Taken by Eugène Atget at the Turn of the 20th Century

Eugène Atget was an early French photographer who captured images of the rapidly disappearing elements of Paris during the waning 19th century. His straight forward yet wistful style served as an inspiration for generations of photographers, including the Surrealist Man Ray and the American Berenice Abbott. 

“For more than 20 years by my own work and personal initiative I have gathered from all the old streets of Vieux Paris the old hôtels, historic or curious houses, beautiful facades, beautiful doors, beautiful woodwork, door knockers, old fountains,” he once said. “This vast artistic and documentary collection is today complete. I can truthfully say that I possess all of Vieux Paris.” 

Born on February 12, 1857 in Libourne, France, Atget was orphaned when he was five years old and was primarily raised by his grandparents. He studied briefly at the Dramatic Arts Conservatory in Paris, and worked as an itinerant actor in the city before beginning his career as a commercial photographer. During his career, he seldom photographed people and instead roamed abandoned gardens or empty courtyards for his subject matter. 

Take a look at Paris through these 31 gorgeous photographs taken by Atget:


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