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Behold the Magnificence of These Early 1900’s Autochromes from Paris, France

by Felix Esser on 01/31/2013

Notre Dame - 1920

Notre Dame – 1920

Going back to the early days of photography is not always enjoyable. The oldest photographs of mankind are dark, undetailed, monochrome pictures that seem to show hardly anything. Only at a fifth glance and with an explanation provided by an expert will you be able to see anything in them. However, humans’ first forays into color photography were pretty amazing from the start — like these ‘Autochrome’ color photographies from early 1900’s Paris.


Autochrome‘ was one of the earliest color photography techniques, and was basically a glass plate coated with dyed potato starch and silver halide. The technique was invented by the Lumière brothers, whose French name fittingly translates as ‘light’. While autochromes still look pretty rough compared to modern color slide film, back in its day it was a revolutionary technology. And the pictures are still amazing to look at.

The pictures below are the colorful witnesses of times long gone by. Being used to pictures from the first half of the last century (and even beyond) usually being monochrome, these autochromes come as somewhat of a revelation. Life was indeed colorful back then! And seeing some of those familiar places, like the Cathédrale de Notre Dame or the entrance to a Métro station, is almost surreal — as they look so familiar yet so strange being in color yet obviously from a different time. But see for yourself in the gallery below!

Porte de Paris

Porte de Paris

Pont Alexandre I

Pont Alexandre I

Notre Dame - 1920

Notre Dame – 1920

Invalides - 1918

Invalides – 1918

Exposition au Grand Palais - 1909

Exposition au Grand Palais – 1909

Tour Eiffel Citroën - 1925

Tour Eiffel Citroën – 1925

January 30, 1910 - Seine Flood

January 30, 1910 – Seine Flood

Auberge du Compas d'Or - 1914

Auberge du Compas d’Or – 1914

Aubert Palace - 1925

Aubert Palace – 1925

Boulevard Exelmans

Boulevard Exelmans

Rue Lepic

Rue Lepic

Rue du Pot de Fer - 1914

Rue du Pot de Fer – 1914

Rue de l'Hôtel de Ville - around 1910

Rue de l’Hôtel de Ville – around 1910

Quai du Louvre - 1920

Quai du Louvre – 1920

Quai d'Orsay - 1923

Quai d’Orsay – 1923

Pictures courtesy of PARIS 1914, via Curious Eggs

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