Before the First World War, sport was a multi-facetted social phenomenon in Paris. On the one hand, the first sports federations were created and started organizing regulated competitions. On the other, sport was at the crossroads of public performance, technological development and bourgeois sociability typical of the end of the nineteenth century. These amazing photographs were taken by Frenchman Jules Beau from between 1896 and 1897.
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Jules Beau is considered the first photographer to specialize in shooting sports and distributing the work to the press. He was a photographer of “the people’s sports” and was particularly attracted to the new Parisian craze of “velocipede,” which soon became a competitive sport. His albums are filled with men and women posed on their bicycles much like these photographs: