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Monday, March 12, 2007

The Paris of Pierre Emonds

No human heart changes half so fast as a city's face.

Pierre Emonds, Demolition Place Dauhine, c. 1871
The photographs of Pierre Emonds speak about a Paris in transition - the epoch of Napoleon III and of Baron Haussmann, and further, up to the end of the nineteenth century. the old streets and buildings were replaced by the great boulevards - and for many Paris lovers it was like the heart of the city would be no more.

The photos of Pierre Emonds and of Charles Marville are witnesses of this dramatic transition. Then Eugène Atget would come to show us that the old heart was still there.

The first photo shows the demolition of Place Dauphine.

Pierre Emonds, Mur de Philippe-Auguste, c. 1869

Mur de Philippe-Auguste:

Pierre Emonds, Rue des Ecoles, 1871

Rue des Ecoles

Pierre Emonds, Tourelle, Rue Larey, c. 1873

Tourelle, Rue Larey - I liked this photo for a very special reason: it resembles 102, Rue du Cherche-Midi, where I lived my first years.

I discovered Emonds just two days ago: one of his photographs was on display at the exhibition organized at the Washington DC National Art Gallery. The photo was showing Les Arènes Romaines, on Rue Monge. They were discovered by chance, during the excavations ordered by Haussmann. A fortunate discovery, the only remnant of the Gallo-Roman period.

I was in Paris for a week in 1999, after a pause of more than fifty years, and I had the chance of walking on some places photographed by Emonds and by Atget. So it happened. I was once on Rue Monge, to visit an old friend of my mother, Madame Madeleine Foursac - and I came to see Les Arènes... Of course, they were very well restored in 1999 - the photo of Emonds shows the epoch of their discovery.

Pierre Emonds, Les Arènes Rue Monge, c. 1871



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