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img634We had an uneventful crossing at night on a ferry to the Dutch coastal city of Hoek van Holland where we boarded a train to Amsterdam and found a lovely hotel on a quiet canal in the older part of the city. We would be woken several times that night by the great bells in this church (shown above) on the half and full hours! We could only spend one day there and in the evening our feet were sore from walking around the old city with those cobblestones in the local speak called “keien” or “kinderkoppies“, meaning something like “children’s heads“, obviously in reference to the size of them. That evening, we really enjoyed our habitual nightcap the “jonge jenever“, one of the local gins after tasting those salty herrings that afternoon to keep us properly on our backs for the night!

We promised ourselves to board the next available early train to visit Paris and would arrive in the late afternoon just in time to get the last room at a hotel at the end of the tree lined Rue Royale with an excellent view towards the Madeleine the ancient church with its 52 Corinthian columns. It is a very busy street where one can see a lot of cleaning being done to keep the streets proper after the passage of all those horse drawn carriages.

One of the finest essays I have read on the development of historical and architectural photography in France and Paris in particular you will find in the 1982 exhibition catalog titled “Visions of City and Country, prints and photographs of Nineteenth Century France”. The exhibition was held at the Worcester Art Museum (Worcester, Massachusetts). The two excellent curators of this exhibition were Bonnie L. Grad and Timothy A. Riggs. So let us immerse ourselves in some of what was written there in the following pages.

The above photograph (number 103) referring to the text in the page above is of course from the Worcester catalog (for a comprehensive review of this exhibition see below). This review makes for interesting reading for those who did not visit the actual exhibition. We see a view from another street ending or starting at the Madeleine and this commercial view is not at all different from ours, a very architectural view, the blind stamped J. Kuhn photograph taken perhaps a few years earlier, depicted a common street scene with horse carriages and trees, illustrating the points made by the curator in the part of the essay above, among the most significant aspects, and the joyous comments of the British tourist that follows towards the end of the above page. A fine review of the exhibition at the museum is here below.

Note: The first Paris photograph in our post is from our archive and is a period signed albumen print blind stamped in the lower right by J. Kuhn, photographer active in Paris around 1870-1880. The Amsterdam period albumen print is not signed. The Church in the picture is, I believe, the “Zuiderkerk” one of the oldest Churches in the city dating from the 1640’s. Ignorance however does not permit me to identify the canal in the photograph.