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September 8, 2022

18 Fantastic Pictures of Paris at the Turn of the Century Taken by Émile Zola

Émile Zola (April 2, 1840 – September 29 1902) was a French novelist, journalist, playwright, the best-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism, and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He was a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus, which is encapsulated in his renowned newspaper opinion headlined J'Accuse…!  Zola was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.

Pont d’Iéna

In 1888, Zola was given a camera, but he only began to use it in 1895 and attained a near professional level of expertise. His photography was a document of turn-of-the-century France and England and an intimate record of his family life. 

Introduction to the History of Photography notes: “He developed his own negatives and made enlargements as well as duly recorded experiments with materials and methods. His photographs document the artist’s private environment, his travels, family life, friends and his interest in all things modern as a witness to a changing world and to the developments of modern culture and of modern life.” 

Take a look at Paris at the turn of the century through these fantastic pictures taken by Zola:

Place de Clichy

Eiffel Tower and the Palais d’Electricite


Open air cafe

Place Prosper-Goubaux

In Walton-on-Thames

Old Paris pavillion, and other pavillions

The Zolas and Charpentiers in Medan

Moving walkways

Family portrait

Street near Crystal Palace

From the Eiffel Tower

Mrs Zola in the Queen’s Hotel, Sydenham

Boats on the Seine

After lunch

House near Queen’s Hotel

Place de Clichy


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