Eugene Atget, Le parc Delessert, 1914
In 1920 Atget wrote …’I have assembled photographic glass negatives… in all the old streets of Old Paris, artistic documents showing the beautiful civil architecture from the 16th to the 19th century. The old mansions, historic or interesting houses, beautiful façades, lovely doors, beautiful panelling, door knockers, old fountains, stylish staircases (wrought iron and wood) and interiors of all the churches in Paris. This enormous documentary and artistic collection is now finished. I can say that I possess the whole of Old Paris’.
An American photographer best known for her black-and-white photography of New York City architecture and urban design of the 1930s Berenice Abbot (1898-1991) noted in 1964 ‘The first time I saw photographs by Eugène Atget was in 1925 in the studio of Man Ray in Paris. Their impact was immediate and tremendous. There was a sudden flash of recognition – the shock of realism unadorned. The subjects were not sensational, but nevertheless shocking in their very familiarity. The real world, seen with wonderment and surprise, was mirrored in each print.’