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Charles Baudelaire and the Flowers of Evil

Charles Baudelaire and the Flowers of Evil

On April 9, 1821, French poet Charles Baudelaire was born. He produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. Baudelaire is most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century. Baudelaire is considered one of the major innovators in French literature. His themes of sex, death, lesbianism, metamorphosis, depression,…
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Baron Haussmann’s Renovation of Paris

Baron Haussmann’s Renovation of Paris

On March 27, 1809, French politician and city planer Georges-Eugène Haussmann, commonly known as Baron Haussmann, was born. He was the Prefect of the Seine Department in France, who was chosen by the Emperor Napoleon III to carry out a massive program of new boulevards, parks and public works in Paris, commonly called Haussmann‘s renovation of Paris. Old Paris In the middle of the 19th century, the center of Paris had the…
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The Great Paris Academic Dispute of 1830

The Great Paris Academic Dispute of 1830

On February 15, 1830, the famous Paris Academy Dispute between the naturalists Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and George Cuvier [5] about the possibility of biological evolution began with a speech of Saint-Hillaire comparing vertebrates with mollusces. Within eight public debates the scientists argued about the possibility that nature not necessarily has to be static but might be subject to constant change. It was the most prominent scientific debate in the 19th century that heavily influenced science…
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Sociological Revolutionary – Émile Durkheim

Sociological Revolutionary – Émile Durkheim

On November 15, 1917, French sociologist David Émile Durkheim passed away. Durkheim formally established the academic discipline and — with W.E.B. Du Bois, Karl Marx and Max Weber — is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science. “For if society lacks the unity that derives from the fact that the relationships between its parts are exactly regulated, that unity resulting from the harmonious articulation of its various functions assured by effective…
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Fin de Siècle at its best – The Paris Metro

Fin de Siècle at its best – The Paris Metro

On July 19 1900, Paris, cultural center of the Belle Époche, opened its Métro. The Paris Métro stations with their Fin de Siècle charme and Art Nouveau design have become a timeless icon of the city. The Paris Mètro was the sixth metro in the world after London (1863)[5], Liverpool (1893), Budapest and Glasgow (both 1896) and Vienna. Main achievements of the Exposition Universelle in 1900 were the introduction of escalators, talking films, the…
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Nadar and How Photography became an Art

Nadar and How Photography became an Art

On April 5, 1820, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon better known under his pseudonym Nadar, was born. He is considered to be one of the first grand masters of photography, besides being a caricaturist, a journalist, a novelist, and also a renown balloonist. Early Years Tall, red-haired, with frightened eyes, whimsical to the vagrant youth, Felix Nadar defined himself as “a real daredevil, a jack-of-all-trades, ill-mannered to the point of calling things by their name, and…
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Eugène Atget’s Old Paris

Eugène Atget’s Old Paris

On February 12, 1857, French photographer Eugène Atget was born. A pioneer of documentary photography, Atget is noted for his determination to document all of the architecture and street scenes of Paris before their disappearance to modernization. An inspiration for the surrealists and other artists, his genius was only recognized by a handful of young artists in the last two years of his life, and he did not live to see the…
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Animating the Absurd – Molière, Grandmaster of Comedy

Animating the Absurd – Molière, Grandmaster of Comedy

(Probably) on January 14th, 1622, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, French playwright and actor who is known by his stage name Molière was born. He is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. The Illustrious Theatre Jean-Baptiste Poquelin was baptized in Paris on January 15, 1622 as son of Jean Poquelin and Marie Cressé, the daughter of a prosperous bourgeois family. His father was one of eight valets de…
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Jean-Rondolphe Perronet and the Bridges of Paris

Jean-Rondolphe Perronet and the Bridges of Paris

Jean-Rodolphe Perronet (1708-1794) On October 27, 1708, French architect and structural engineer Jean-Rodolphe Perronet was born. He is best known for his many stone arch bridges, among them his most popular work, the Paris Pont de la Concorde. Jean-Rodolphe Perronet was born in Suresnes, a suburb of Paris, the son of a Swiss Guardsman. At 17 he entered the architectural practice of Jean Beausire, “first architect” to the city of Paris, as…
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