One day I really will have exhausted this subject but for the moment here’s another look at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900. I’d downloaded this photo album months ago from the excellent resources at the University of Heidelberg then promptly forgot all about it. The book is of interest for the variety of views it gives of the exposition; despite this being a world event that attracted a host of photographers and even (as we’ve seen) early filmmakers, the views you see are often the same remote shots of the major buildings.
Ludovic Baschet’s book compensates for this with photos by the Neurdein brothers, Étienne and Antonin (assisted by Maurice Baschet) which show many close views of the pavilions, including a couple I hadn’t seen before in any detail. The oddest thing about these views is that many seem to be composites, with figures from other shots dropped into the scenes; this may be more obvious to eyes schooled in the disparities of Photoshop. Baschet’s book also has the best views I’ve seen of the Swiss exhibit, a miniature village built in the 7th arrondissement complete with livestock, authentic milkmaids and a fake mountain. And is that a joke at Britain’s expense in the view of Edwin Lutyens’ surprisingly dull British pavilion? Philippe Jullian tells us that Paris endured a heatwave in the summer of 1900—there are many parasols in evidence—yet the British pavilion is shown with a rain-soaked pavement, and set against a mass of impending storm clouds.