Photo History 101: Rare Color Photos of Paris in the Early 1900s

There is a school of thought that proposes the Earth is home to a smattering of “sacred sites” — energy centers, places of mystery and wonder — earth Chakras some call them. The Pyramids. Lake Titicaca. Mt. Fuji. You get it. I don’t know if Paris is on that list, but it should be. There’s a magic to that city, so much so that I lived there for a few years not all that long ago and get back there on the regular a couple times each year.

So it was with serious interest that I ravaged through these extremely rare color photographs of Paris taken in the early 1900s that recently crossed my desk. And I’ll admit to a fair amount of digging (thanks for the help Ben) to validate their authenticity (I was sure they were hand colored or Photoshop fakes), but rest assured these are no fakes.

Students of photography and its history (um… both of you) will appreciate that these here stills were taken using the “Autochrome Lumière” technology, a tricky process patented in 1903 by the wonderous Lumière brothers of France. These gents were the real deal. The pointillist… say, slightly impressionist quality of the photographs is a result of the coarseness of the dyed starch that coated the glass plate and served as the original “color filter” idea. [photo apps, eat your heart out – this shiz is the real deal]

All the images featured below were shot between 1907 and 1930 – many of them the work of a banker named Albert Kahn, who sent Autochrome photographers across continents to create what he called the “Archives of the Planet.” Who said bankers weren’t creative? Put that it your abacus pipe and smoke it – happy weekend.

[All images here – courtesy of the Albert Kahn Museum. Much gratitude and respect. Amusez-vous bien!]

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