On a recent visit to Paris, I promised myself I’d visit places I’d never been in my 50 year acquaintance with the city. So on my first morning I took the 68 bus from Rue Blanche, across the river to meet up with TG member, SayMoi. After a late breakfast at the elegant ‘Paul’ salon de thé near her hotel in the 6th, we set off for the Albert Kahn Museum & Garden in Boulogne-Billancourt, on the western edge of Paris near the Seine at Pont de Saint-Cloud.
Albert Kahn (1860-1940) was a banker and philanthropist who undertook, beginning on a trip to Japan in 1909 with his chauffeur and photographer, Alfred Dutertre, to document the world on film and with the first available color photographic process, Autochrome plates. By 1931, 72,000 images and 183,000 meters of film had been produced in 50 countries and they form the collection, 'Les Archives de la Planète' (The Archives of the Planet), housed in the museum since 1986. The photographs are exquisite, with the appearance of hand-colored prints. They document people and places on the cusp of enormous change, remarkable faces looking directly back at us though time. I recommend a visit to anyone interested in photography and early 20th century history, as well as the art of the garden.
Kahn’s ‘Gardens of the World’ were created, beginning in 1893, at his home that still stands at the back of the garden. The museum building is striking and although parts of the grounds were undergoing renovation and the Japanese garden was closed, there was more than enough of interest for 2 garden lovers. The renewed Jardin & Village Japonais will be an irresistible inducement to return.
Les Jardins du Monde
Beijing, China, 1913
Additional photos are from Wikipedia.
Next week, the first of 2 tours of ‘Paris Passages’,
les passages couverts, 18th century glass-roofed shopping arcades.