Musée Albert Kahn has more than its Japanese gardens to show

parisdiaFlowers and gardens, Photography1 Comment

Three first class passengers on Avon III, Sept-Oct 1909, print from an autochrome plate

Albert Kahn, the successful banker of the turn of the century, who documented the world with 72 000 autochromes, in the “Archives of the Planet”, was a keen traveller and he always took a photographer with him. For its new exhibition, his museum in Boulogne is showing extraordinary photographs of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro in 1909. The crossing on the König Friedrich August on August 27 led him from Porto to Brazil and Argentina and the return trip was a month later on the British ship Avon III through Funchal in Madeira. 85 photographs were selected among 683 kept in the archives and some of them are the first known color images of the bay of Rio. The travelers on the ships were mostly immigrants from Italy and Portugal and some shots are probably unique of their harsh installation, down below, near the machines. On the deck, in first class, there was a swimming pool and elegant social life. 

Avenida Central (now Avenida Rio Branco), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 1909

Albert Kahn was in finance and the curators do not precise what kind of business he was in when visiting latin America but he already had a sense of documenting his travels. The pictures of city life and of architecture, which has probably disappeared since, are precious. The image of a “baiana d’Acarajé”, a lady selling buns in Bahia, Brazil is incredibly moving. Unfortunately we don’t know who the photographer was nor what his intentions were. While touring us around the show, Delphine Allannic and Clément Poché (formerly at le Bal) could not answer many questions on why Kahn travelled with a heavy camera (for only one four minute film on the boat) and how he selected the topics of photos. Why did he go to Petropolis in Brazil? But the miracle of color is there and the efforts made into enlarging the tiny autochromes into very large lit images is fantastic.

A Baiana d’Acarajé, A lady selling buns in Bahia, Brazil, September, 1909, print form a stereoscopic plate

The premises of Musée Albert Kahn are magical with their different gardens, Japanese, English, rose garden and three different types of forests on 4,2 has (9 acres) in the center of Boulogne. And the character of its founder is worth studying with his social ideas and taste for the unknown. The exhibition is presented with a strong educational theme for the children as well, with many simple explanations, since school trips make for most of the 230 000 yearly visitors. This is a perfect place to visit in the summer months to cool down…

The Japanese garden remains the main attraction of the place

Until November 19, Musée Albert Kahn is easily reachable by tube to Pont de Saint Cloud.

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One Comment on “Musée Albert Kahn has more than its Japanese gardens to show”

  1. if I lived in France I would be there as soon as I could come – Unfortunately I live in Wellington New Zealand…

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