Eugène Atget (1857–1927) was a French photographer best known for his photographs of the architecture and streets of Paris. He took up photography in the late 1880s and supplied studies for painters, architects, and stage designers.
Atget began shooting Paris in 1898 using a large format view camera to capture the city in detail. His photographs, many of which were taken at dawn, are notable for their diffuse light and wide views that give a sense of space and ambience. They also document Paris and its rapid changes; many of the areas Atget photographed were soon to be razed as part of massive modernization projects.
In 1920 Atget wrote …“I have assembled photographic glass negatives… in all the old streets of Old Paris, artistic documents showing the beautiful civil architecture from the 16th to the 19th century. The old mansions, historic or interesting houses, beautiful façades, lovely doors, beautiful panelling, door knockers, old fountains, stylish staircases (wrought iron and wood) and interiors of all the churches in Paris. This enormous documentary and artistic collection is now finished. I can say that I possess the whole of Old Paris.”
Street musicians, 1898. (Eugène Atget/Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Street paver, 1899. (Eugène Atget/Library of Congress)
Rag picker, 1899. (Eugène Atget/Getty Center)
Rue De La Montagne. (Eugène Atget/Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Rue des Nonnains d’Hyères, 1900. (Eugène Atget/Institut Valencia d’Art Modern)