Industrial and Rural Landscapes at the Turn of the 20th Century

Industrial and Rural Landscapes at the Turn of the 20th Century

Located in the 7th arrondissement, just like the Hôtel de la Tour Maubourg, the Musée d’Orsay is one of the most prestigious museums in Paris. The Musée d’Orsay was established in what used to be a train station that was built at the turn of the 20th century. As a result, this museum possesses an atmosphere that makes it different from all other museums in the City of Light.

Until March 10, 2013, the Musée d’Orsay is presenting an exhibition of the French photographer Félix Thiollier. The unique journey of Thiollier began in 1877, when he was 35 years old. It was at this time that the ribbon manufacturer gave up his industrial career and decided to plunge himself into the world of art. He began as an academic and moved on to publishing illustrations in books. Working from the modest French town of Saint-Étienne, Thiollier did not seek fame or recognition; he simply wanted to capture the beauty that he saw in the natural and industrial landscapes around him.

For this reason, the artist’s work went completely unrecognized up until the past 20 or so years. As of late, the art world has begun to appreciate the artist’s photographic images. Taken in the late 1800s — around the same time of the construction of the train station that would later house the Musée d’Orsay — these images contain both historical and artistic value.

Through Thiollier’s lens, spectators can see the ways of life as well as the level of photographic technology that existed at the time. These rural and industrial photographic landscapes therefore reveal a universe that is not often honored in museum settings.