Revisiting Atget

Eugène Atget is known as the "father of modern photography." Over the course of three decades, between the end of the 19th century and his death in 1927, Atget made thousands of photographs of Paris. In doing so, he captured an indexical survey of a city in transformation from one century to another, and the transition from "Le Vieux Paris" to the modern city. In the late 1990's, a century after the beginning of Atget's photography career, artist Christopher Rauschenberg created a rephotographic survey of many of Atget's most iconic streetscape and park images of Paris, published in his book Paris Changing: Revisiting Eugène Atget's Paris. Twenty years after Rauschenberg's project, Washington and Lee photography and history students have retraced Atget's steps yet again in an effort to evaluate what has changed and what has stayed the same in the city.

Rue Galande

The Rue Galande is a cobbled narrow street located on the left bank near the river Seine. Like the rest of Paris, it’s a street that has seen a number of changes since the 19th century – but unlike Paris, its frame – its brick and mortar – has…

Rue des Archives

46 rue des Archives is tucked on a quiet corner in the Marais neighborhood. The historically Jewish and LGBT district can now be likened to New York City’s SoHo, with hip retail and dining amidst residential spaces. The three images of the building…

Rue Norvins

When comparing Eugene Atget's and Christopher Rauschenberg's photos of The Sacré-Coeur from Rue Norvins in the gorgeous Montmartre with our photo taken many years later, the rapid gentrification of this iconic street is striking. However,…

Place Sainte-Opportune

While walking down modern-day Place Sainte-Opportune it is hard to imagine that it was once barren, no trees surrounding the area. It is also hard to imagine that there was no metro station and that the area was calm and quiet. If you walk around…

Rue de Seine and Rue de l'Echaude

The streets of Rue de Seine and Rue de l’Échaudé meet to form an intersection where Eugène Atget originally decided to take a photograph. Atget’s photograph featured the side of a building located on this intersection. Rauschenberg decided to retrace…

Rue Saint-Denis

Eugène Atget is famous for providing one of the most thorough photo documentations of Paris in the city’s history. He managed to capture the streets and everyday life at the beginning of the twentieth century, and helped to document the ever-growing…

Corner of Passage Basfour, rue Saint-Denis

176 rue Saint-Denis falls right on the corner of Passage Basfour in the 2nd Arrondissement of Paris, in the heart of the district, Les Halles. Les Halles has been known for its incredible food, and today, contains one of the largest shopping centers…

Place du Tertre

Drawn to Place du Tertre in 1899, Eugene Atget captured the square at a time when the neighborhood of Montmartre was flourishing with the activity of young artists that congregated in the area because of the cheap rents and active social scene.…

Rue Saint-Bon

Set in the Marais, a historic Parisian district that reaches across the third and fourth arrondissements, Atget’s photo captures a small passage stretching from the Rue Saint Bon to the road behind. A short flight of stairs leads from the cobblestone…
Many thanks to Christopher Rauschenberg for his time spent answering our students' questions, for his support of this project, and his permission to use his images in this tour. His work can be viewed at http://www.christopherrauschenberg.com and his book Paris Changing: Revisiting Eugène Atget's Paris can be purchased at http://a.co/fzZxIOz .