Throughout its history, Paris has been a land of welcome and creation for artists: first in the Louvre under the rule of the kings of France from François I to Louis XIV, then in the heart of private mansions.
At the end of the 19th century, the capital attracted many artists from Toulouse-Lautrec to Picasso, making the city a center of art with international influence. Whether it is a setting for daily life, a symbol of power or a place of architectural expression, Paris, in its multiplicity, constitutes a protean source of inspiration for creators. Throughout the ages, they have portrayed it in different ways: from a bird’s eye view, in an anecdotal way or simply to celebrate its architecture and its emblematic places.
Paris from the air
Who has never dreamed of seeing Paris at a glance?
A bird’s eye view from a rooftop, from the top of a building or from an aerostatic device allows you to take height and shift the point of view. It is then possible to fly over an emblematic place or to apprehend the undulating topography of the city.
From the ancient royal gardens to the great contemporary parks, the green spaces of the capital offer walkers places to breathe and relax.
Under the Ancien Régime, the gardens, high places of sociability of Parisian life, are conducive to public walks, games and libertinage: the King’s garden, the Tuileries or Luxembourg, La Folie-Boutin or the Palais-Royal. They arouse a keen interest among Parisians of all classes. In addition to this recreational aspect, there was a more scientific aspect, the acclimatization of exotic animal or plant species and a concern for public health.
In the 19th century, at the request of Napoleon III, Baron Haussmann redesigned the city and created numerous gardens, real green spaces necessary for the oxygenation of the city based on hygienic theories. No less than 1,830 hectares were developed, including the Parc Montsouris, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and the Parc du Ranelagh.
In 1766, Simon-Charles Boutin laid out a vast garden in the Saint-Lazare district, which has now disappeared. He named it Tivoli in reference to the famous gardens of the Italian city. This garden became a leisure park where the “wonderful” and the” unbelievable” met at the turn of the 19th century to have fun. There are a multitude of attractions: the Chinese ring game, the tap-cul, the game of rackets or Colin-Maillard.
This public garden is the oldest in Paris, created under Louis XIII for scientific purposes. Attached to the crown, it is called the King’s Garden. Its most famous director was Buffon whose designs influenced many porcelain and textile printing factories. During the Revolution, the institution became the National Museum of Natural History. The animals of the menagerie of Versailles were transferred there. This landscaped garden with its winding paths houses several buildings with different functions and architectural styles, from the greenhouses to the amphitheater, a place for teaching.
Historical Paris, unusual Paris
Paris with its many monuments is an open-air history book.
In the 19th century, bringing together different buildings on the same canvas was not trivial. Beyond the picturesque or decorative side, the artist invests architecture with a symbolic charge. After the destruction of the revolution, France is slowly rediscovering its heritage and history. The return of the Bourbons to power accentuates a little more this impulse towards a glorious past. It is a fashionable subject as shown by the number of textile prints presenting this theme.
In the twentieth century, fabric designers tended to focus on the picturesque aspect of Paris by playing on a naive aesthetic.
From one neighborhood to another, from the right bank to the left bank, by night or by day, the city of light inspired them with playful or graphic motifs. In the 1950’s, Pierre Frey even published printed panels that echoed the codes of traditional tapestryin their composition while celebrating the festive and popular atmosphere so particular to Paris.