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August 30, 2022

35 Spectacular Postcards of France in the Last Years of the 19th Century

These stunning postcards of France during the turn of the century were created using Photochrom, a process for producing colorized images from a single black-and-white photographic negative via the direct photographic transfer of the negative onto lithographic printing plates.

The Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero, Paris

Because no color information was preserved in the photographic process, the photographer would make detailed notes on the colors within the scene and use the notes to hand paint the negative before transferring the image through colored gels onto the printing plates.

The process was invented in the 1880s by Hans Jakob Schmid, an employee of the Swiss company Orell Gessner Füssli—a printing firm whose history began in the 16th century. From the mid-1890s the process was licensed by other companies, including the Detroit Photographic Company in the US and the Photochrom Company of London. 

The photochrom process was most popular in the 1890s, when true color photography was first developed but was still commercially impractical. After World War I, which ended the craze for collecting photochrom postcards, the chief use of the process was for posters and art reproductions. The last photochrom printer operated up to 1970.

East coast at high tide, Mont St. Michel

Rue de la Republic, Lyon

Chateau de Duingt, Annecy

The Pantheon and the Rue Soufflot, Paris

Notre Dame de Bon Secours and Joan of Arc’s monument, Rouen

Trouville beach

A gallery in the Louvre, Paris

The Latone Basin, Versailles

Palace of the Grand Trianon, Versailles


The Pavilions of the Nations, Exposition Universal, Paris

Cable railway, Marseilles

Arc de Triomphe, Paris




The valley of Chamonix from the Aiguille du Floria

The Malavaux near Vichy

Promenade and Grand Salon, Trouville

La Grande Roue, Paris


The Palace Lumineux, Exposition Universal, Paris

Capitol Place, Toulouse

The throne room, Fontainebleau Palace


Trouville beach

Entrance to harbor, St. Malo

The Port Militaire and swing bridge, Brest

Arena, Nîmes

The Hôpital Spring, Vichy

Gallery of Mirrors, Versailles

Cauterets, Pyrenees

Grand Street, St. Malo

Notre Dame, Paris

(via Library of Congress)


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