At a time when Paris was experiencing its metamorphosis from medieval streets to the wide boulevards and parks, according to Haussmann's plan, Charles Marville was photographically documenting every step. Marville, his adopted name, Charles Francois Bossu began his career as an illustrator but found his true métier photography, in the mid 19th century. A skill quickly acquired and noticed by others, Marville became the official photographer of the City of Light.
He recorded the before and after of the modernization of Paris...the beautiful reconstructions, wide tree lined avenues, as well as the demolition, evictions and poverty pushed to the outskirts. The current exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art follows the National Gallery of Art exhibition which coincided with the bicentennial of his birth. The accompanying book MARVILLE, is a study of his work beyond the environs of Paris. Portraiture and landscapes of France and Germany fill the beautiful 200 plus well documented pages. As much of Marville's work was destroyed in a fire at City Hall in 1871, this will no doubt be THE book to own.
In THE GHOSTS OF PARIS PAST (FT WEEKEND, February 28, 2014) Ariella Budick wrote ...
"…Marville is the bridge between periods. While the painters were chasing glitz on bright central streets, he ventured out to the peripheral dead zones…Paris became a pearl nestled in a tissue of squalor…"
MARVILLE Photographer of Paris, by Sarah Kennel with Anne de Mondenard, Peter Barberie, Francoise Reynaud and Joke de Wolf.
Published by the National Gallery of Art, Washington
Through May 4, 2014
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10028