The Albert Kahn Gardens, it’s time to go to Boulogne

parisdiaFlowers and gardens, Photography1 Comment

Mademoiselle Marie Yvonne von Schoen in the rose garden , 1914

Albert Kahn was a visionary and with the money he made on the stock exchange at the beginning of the 20 th century, he developed a systematic registry of autochromes, “Archives of the Planet”, shot by photographers whom he sent around the world to shoot great landscapes. The museum, set in the middle of his Japanese and English gardens of Boulogne Billancourt, is showing pictures of his gardens in Cap Martin designed by Henri Duchêne on the Riviera and in Boulogne. “Natures Vivantes” living nature, is a great source of inspiration for planting your own garden and also a testimony of early XX th century social life since Kahn hosted International and French visitors in grand style. Conteamoraray photographers are included in the show with their own vision of nature. And right now, all the azaleas and rhododendrons are in bloom before the roses emerge in June.

Camille Sauvageot, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, February 1925, in Cap Martin

The are two attractions in this museum: the gardens where you can take your grandmother (or grand children) in her wheel chair, because all paths are perfectly protected, and discover the Forest of the Vosges with its very old cedar trees and bicentenary chestnut tree. And the collection of autochromes, these glass photographs artificially colored through a process invented by the Lumière brothers. Both gardens tropical and tempered, prove the passion that the banker had for nature. He offered a special space to biologist Jean Comandon, who was a doctor passionate of moving images, to film every movement of the gardeners and visitors.  His films are preserved at Institut Pasteur.

Paths in the 7 has of Cap Martin gardens planted with tropical trees and flowers which have disappeared but are documented by over 2 000 photos and films

Kahn also  financed contemporary artists such as Mathurin Méheut, who had a retrospective of his work two years ago in Brittany. He gave him a scholarship “Autour du Monde” to help him paint, commissioned nine paintings from him for his villa Miramar in Cap Martin and published in 1931, a printed collection of the painter’s gouaches ” La Plante Exotique” featuring twenty four plates inspired by the Mediterranean gardens.

Mathurin Méheut, “Cactus”, circa 1929-1930, one o the 9 paintings which used to ornate Vila Miramar’s drawing room

Besides Japanese and Korean visitors whom he particularly liked because of his Japanese garden, Kahn also invited students and priests, and Lumière’s family, who are photographed in 1926 and 1927. Scientists and philosophers are also frequent guests such as Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, the Bengale physicist who discusses the “emotion of plants ” which will be recorded by Comandon during three years on  4 000 meters of film.

The old cedar trees and rhododendrons in bloom in the Forêt vosgienne 30 mns away on the subway

This exhibition is unique and all plant lovers will be amazed by the precision of the recordings in these 1920 autochromes.

Until December 31, at Musée Albert Kahn in Boulogne very accessible on the subway Pont de St Cloud.

Share this Post

One Comment on “The Albert Kahn Gardens, it’s time to go to Boulogne”

  1. Pingback: Visiting Paris – David Enzel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *